Golf has been gaining popularity. Unfortunately, the number of injuries associated with the game has also increased. This is because many golfers do not recognize that golf is a mentally and physically demanding game which requires the right golf specific flexibility, coordination, posture and strengths.
Body movement limitation results in poor or altered swing patterns which could lead to injuries especially back and neck pain, elbow and shoulder injuries. The golfer may have a compromised swing and distance, which could affect the life span of the game.
The approach to prepare the body to be fit for golf is Golf Fitness. Although, Golf Fitness is new in Singapore, this approach is already very popular in the Unites States of America, European countries and Australia. Golf Fitness is readily available in major golf tournaments.
Medical based Golf Fitness is based on research, which has revealed five essential elements that will enhance your game:
- Muscle performance
- Core stability
Together with technologically and performance enhanced equipment, GOLFfit offers a holistic approach to a better, safer and longer game.
What is GOLFfit?
GOLFfit is a highly customized programme for adults and children that is conducted by professional golf physiotherapists to prime and prep your body for optimal golf performance.
To begin with, a golf specialist physiotherapist will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your body. And based on your specific conditions and needs, the physiotherapist will tailor a program accordingly.
The GOLFfit program will include:
- A 2D video analysis of your golf posture and swing
- Golf posture assessment
- Golf-specific strengthening exercise and drills
- Rehabilitation of golf injuries
- Golf-specific massage
- Golf Pilates
The objectives of GOLFfit:
- To assess your posture and postural muscle
- Identify physical limitations
- Assess balance and coordination
- Determine whether performance limitations are technical or physical
- Prevent injuries by early detection of limitations
- Manage golf related pain and injuries
The program will help you achieve:
- Good posture and stable set-up position
- Great muscular strength and joint flexibility
- Improved distance with your swing and help drive the ball farther than you ever have
- Better control during your backswing
- Improved balance and coordination
- Improve longevity in your game
The golf swing is a complex movement that utilizes the whole body in a coordinated fashion. When a swing is performed repeatedly or executed improperly due to poor understanding of the swing mechanics or physical constraints, injuries may occur.
Golf related injuries may be a result of overuse, poor techniques and inadequate physical fitness. According to research, overuse injuries predominate in professional golfer while amateur golfer tends to sustain injuries secondary to incorrect golf swing.
Some of the most common areas of golf injuries are:
- low back
A golf swing involves large range of movement of the back and compressive forces on the spine are found to be 8 times of the body weight during the swing. Hence, the spine is subject to tremendous stress throughout the golf swing. Due to the accumulated forces as a result of repetitive movement during practices, couple with a poorly conditioned body, low back pain is commonly seen in golfers.
Upper limb injuries are common due to their role in linking the fast moving golf club with the power generating torso. The wrist provides an anchor point of the club to the arms and body as it moves through a relatively wide range of motion during the golf swing. Large forces are produced in the golf swing just before impact and poor swing mechanics such as fat shots or casting are common causes of wrist injuries (e.g. muscular or ligamentous strains).
Elbow pain is another common golf injury especially found in amateur female golfers. Most elbow injuries (85%) occur in the outer aspect of the elbow, a condition termed as “tennis elbow”. This is caused by overuse, fat shots or gripping the club too tight or using a wrong grip size. Another type of elbow injury less commonly seen is the golfers’ elbow. This refers to pain at the inner aspect of the elbow and is usually as a result of poor control of the deceleration of the club head.
Shoulder injuries are relatively less common. It comprises of approximately 8-12% of the golf injuries seen. The shoulder goes through large range of motion and inadequate control of the shoulder blade muscles and a lack of flexibility in the key shoulder muscles predisposes golfers to shoulder impingement, tendonitis and arthritis.
In our clinic, we noted the following key areas of limitations contributing to golfing injuries or poor golf performance:
- Poor Posture
- Reduced Flexibility
- Weak muscles (especially in the golf specific muscles like the shoulders blade, trunk and buttock muscles)
- Improper swing techniques
Good posture is important for golf performance. It reduces risk of injuries, permit a golfer to get into a good address position and maintain good spinal position throughout the golf swing.
However, most of us do not have an ideal posture. This is because most of us lead predominantly sedentary lifestyles and adaptation of our body occurs in those postures. Examples are muscles at the hips and shoulders that tend to tighten up due to prolonged sitting in front of the computer.
In addition, unlike a PGA golfer, social golfer has lesser tendency to work out golf specific muscles (such as shoulder blade and trunk muscles) that need to be strong to provide a good platform for a stable and effective swing. The result of poor posture and weakness in those specific muscles predisposes one to injury in certain regions of our body, such as wrist, elbow, shoulders and back.
If you have any nagging pain or aches during or after a golf game, it would be appropriate to speak to one of our golf physiotherapists who are trained to conduct a comprehensive golf specific assessment for your body to identify any specific hindrances to your golf performance. Thereafter, they would work with you to develop a fitness programme that is tailored to your goals and work towards improving your game as well as prolonging your lifespan in your sport.
I am a novice golfer with a golf elbow and strained back. Through Golf Fitness Programme, I was able to better understand the use of correct muscle groups to improve my co-ordination, reduce injury caused by repetitive motions and most of all, increase my range of movements for better strokes. I am very happy to have undertaken this programme at TTSH, and worked with professional, friendly and dedicated staff who can appreciate the mechanics and game of golf fully and give great useful advice to participants. After completing a tailored programme, I am now enjoying my game even more, injury-free to boot.
- Ms. Georgina Hong
I fully appreciate the GOLFfit program when I see the golf ball surging forward and gaining added distance during my game. With the prescribed exercises, I can feel the difference in my swing. Friends have commented that my game has improved.
- Ms.Yee, Avid Golfer, Member SICC and Jurong CC
For the past 7 or 8 years, I have been having this nagging pain in my felt shoulder each time I play golf. After 4 sessions, I am pain free.
- Mr. Tan York Peng, Member Seletar Country Club
This programme has helped me develop the correct muscles (for golf) and in the process decreased the risk of injury. I have confidence that it will help me fulfill my ambition to enjoy golf at my age and beyond.
- Mr. Henry Leong, Regional President, Flint Group Asia.
I used to experience recurring back and hip aches which made my golf games really unpleasant and inconsistent. However through precise and professional diagnosis, the weak areas of my body were accurately identified and isolated, and treated through a series of specific exercises targeting such areas. My flexibility and stamina have improved tremendously through the exercise regime, and I am now able to hit more consistent shots leading to an improvement in my scoring. But most of all, I now enjoy pain free golf and great fitness on the golf course. I hope others will also see the benefit of golf biomechanics as a way to pain free and injury prevention golf.
- Mr. Jeremy Yong
In my opinion, TTSH has done a good job in identifying this golffitness program providing care for golfer. Honestly, when I first sign up for this program I was not very optimistic about it but out of curiosity I went ahead with it. To my surprise, it is not just fitness but importantly care for golfer in advising them on how to prevent injuries during golfing. In fact, only after attending a few lessons, my back did not hurt that badly anymore the next day after golfing.
- Mr. Kong Mun Chew