A Good WALK Spoiled!

Will This Have The Same Impact When Riding In A Cart?

While in the pro shop a couple of months ago, a friend of mine looked at me sideways and asked if I was “serious” when I told the pro shop attendant that I wanted to walk.  Now admittedly I do not always walk, and I do not play with him a lot, but most of my friends know me to be a walker on the golf course.  The problem that I tend to run into is that when I am heading out for 18 with some of my friends, they rarely chose to walk, and unfortunately many courses will prevent us from walking even if we wanted to.  My playing partner that day asked what I was “thinking about” when I decided to walk the course that day.  I told him that I play better when I walk and I also get more exercise, neither of which is a bad thing.
Just to make the benefits of walking a little clearer.   Think about the distance that you will cover when you are walking the course, not to mention if you are carrying your bag (which I try to whenever I can) you are most likely carrying an extra 30 pounds or so on your back.  In terms of distance, let’s assume that the average golfer is probably playing somewhere between the white and blue tees.  So let’s assume that that is 6500 yards, that would be 3.69 miles if you only walk from tee to green.  How many of us ever walk simply from tee to green…  We walk from the green to the next tee also, and I know that I can spend quite a bit of time walking from the left side of the fairway to the bunker on the right side of the green.  There was a small study done at Inverness Golf Club in Denver.  According to this study, it can be assumed that we will burn twice as many calories by walking (either carrying or using a push cart) as compared to using a riding cart.  Even if we ignore the health benefits of walking, think about the impact on pace of play.  Each player will be able to walk to their ball and immediately prepare to play, rather than waiting for their playing partner to hit and drive them to their ball, because let’s be honest how many amateurs can actually play “good cart golf?”  Pace of play is a totally different issue, and one we can discuss at a later time, but walking can have a positive impact on it, assuming that the players are able to walk at a normal pace.

Now for a little advice…  Please DO NOT attempt to walk a course that you have never played before, without a significant discussion with the Pro Shop to determine the walkability of the golf course.  There have been many courses that I have been told are walkable, only to find half mile walks between holes.  That is not what I would call walkable, because I am only going to slow down the groups behnd me if I try to walk the course.  If the course is a walkable course and you are physically able to get out and walk the course I highly recommend that you try it, at least once to see if it has any impact on your game.  You might find that you like it!

If you want to find out how “walkable” a course is you can visit TheWalkingGolfer.com for a list of the courses in your state.


Your Brain and Your Game – Working Together Or Against One Another

“Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.”
– Bobby Jones

The majority of the topics for this blog have centered around the physical aspect of the game, but we cannot overlook the impact that the mind can have on our round.  Most golfers have played a round where it seems that they can do nothing wrong.  The day where you feel like you could stand on the tee box, with a blindfold on, and stripe one down the middle of the fairway without thinking twice.  Unfortunately, many have also experienced the day where you stand over the two foot putt wondering if you can possibly find a way to sink it.  Or the day where on the second hole you realize that “your driver isn’t working” and you pull a 3 iron out because you “can at least put it in play.”  The scariest part of these two rounds is that they can very easily happen on back to back days!

You must remember that because of muscle memory, our golf swing is very similar from one day to the next.  This is only true if you just pick up the club and swing it, either without a swing thought or with the same swing thought.  The danger comes when you attempt to change your swing thought in the middle of a round.  How many times have you made a bad swing and then immediately thought “I picked my head up” or “I must have swung from the outside in?”  These thoughts will immediately change your next swing, unless you find a way to clear them from your thought pattern.  It is possible that you just made one bad swing!  The ball may have been farther above your feet than you thought, or you may have misjudged your lie, or you may have just caught a little too much of the rough.  All of these things will effect the outcome of your shot, despite the fact that your swing may have been flawless.

How do you overcome that bad swing, without letting it effect the rest of your round?  The best way to overcome those negative thoughts, is to step back and immediately take another swing.  During this second swing, you MUST maintain the same swing thought from the previous swing.  If an amateur attempts to change their swing mid round, that is a recipe for disaster for that particular round.  All swing changes, by amateurs, should be made on the range, and not on the course.  Now get out there and think positive (swing) thoughts!

Fall Ball

What's Not To Love?

The autumn is arguably the best time of the year to play the game that we love.  There is no more scenic time of the year, and the air temperature in the Mid-Atlantic this time of the year is ideal.  The only downside is trying to find an errant tee shot under a tree, whose leaves have already fallen, can be a bit tricky.

I admit, my favorite part of this time of the year is to enjoy  the last couple of rounds before Mother Nature brings out the cold and the snow.  However, the most important thing that we can do this time of the year is to take the time to do an honest assessment of your game, so that you can prepare for the offseason, and, more importantly, the next season.  Many golfers take the time to keep statistics during their round, however they simply review them at the end of the round and then think nothing more of them.  I recently finished a round and my friend said to me “I can’t believe that I had 37 putts today, those greens were  pretty quick today.”  My response to his statement was simple, “How many putts do you average for a round?”   His response surprised me though.  He said “I’m not sure I guess around 33.”  Now this is a guy that I know is fanatical about tracking his stats during a round.  I know because when I am carrying the card his response to “What do you want on that hole?” usually sounds like this “Give me a par, 2 putts, no FIR, but did get a GIR” or “I got a freaking double, 3 putts, No FIR, No GIR, 1 Drop, 1 in the bunker.”  I have not quite figured out how to fit all of that into the little box on the card, but that is a different story.

If your scorecard looks like this at the end of the round, it's time to use that info to track your game!

What surprised me the most is that he takes all that time while playing the round to track all of those statistics, yet does not record them to track them throughout the season.  So he is simply assessing his game on a day to day basis and is not looking at the big picture of his strengths and weaknesses.  I recently suggested that he begin to use a site, that I use, called www.oobgolf.com, which allows you to enter all of your stats from each round and then call up that information at any time to assess trends in your game.  The overall strengths and weakness of your game will become all too apparent when you look at the larger picture instead of a snapshot of each round.

The next step is to take that information and use it to establish and off-season routine to work on the areas of concern, without that information you will not know how to assess and then address the shortcomings of your game during the offseason.

Must Watch TV! Golf Fitness Academy With Gray Cook

Gray Cook

Gray Cook, The Movement Guru

This is going to be a very brief post.  I want to tell all of you to make sure to watch this week’s episode of the Golf Fitness Academy on the Golf Channel.  The original episode aired on June 6th, and the guest on the episode is Gray Cook.  Gray is a physical therapist who is at the forefront of the functional movement effort.  He developed the Functional Movement Screen, which is used by many professionals to assess for injury potential and/or limitations in the quality of their movement.  This gives their clients the opportunity to make significant improvement in a rather quick time frame.  Please, take the time to watch the episode, it might be a game changer for you!

Here’s a little Sample of some of Gray’s Work with Titleist Performance Institute.

Here is a link to the show on The Golf Channel:  http://www.golfchannel.com/tv/golf-fitness-academy/

Want To Hit The Ball Farther – Get Those Shoulders To Turn!

Look at Ricky Fowler's Shoulder Turn - Do You Wish Yours Looked Like That?

In previous posts we have discussed the importance of lumbar spinal stability and hip mobility, and their impact on the golf swing. However, we have left a very important component of the golf swing out of that discussion. Once the stability in the lumbar spine, and the mobility in the hips have been established it is time to begin to work on improving the mobility of the thoracic spine. Because we are doing all that we can to limit the movement (i.e. rotation) of the lumbar spine, we are forced to find another area which can provide the rotation required to perform a full turn during the golf swing. The full turn is what will help to maximize our clubhead speed, and allow us to hit the ball farther, without adding undue stress to the structures of the lumbar spine.

There is a major dilemma that we must be aware of prior to beginning any thoracic mobility exercise. It is of the utmost importance to remember to maintain lumbar stability, while we attempt to increase our thoracic mobility. The first exercise that I use is a simple one, but the second exercise, the “Brettzel” can be a very challenging one. The “Brettzel” was developed by Gray Cook, a physical therapist, and it is an excellent way to increase thoracic rotational mobility.

To begin the “Brettzel,” lay on your side with your shoulders and hips stacked on top of one another. Your head must be supported to keep your cervical spine from laterally flexing. From that position, raise your top hip toward your head while bending your knee, until both reach a 90 degree angle. From this position use your hand closest to the floor to support your knee, so that it does not allow for any pelvic rotation. When in this position, reach your top hand to reach back to grasp your bottom foot. From this position, engage your core to limit lumbar rotation, and allow your foot and thoracic spine to work together to bring both closer to the floor, while maintaining the core contraction. This will not only increase the mobility in the thoracic spine, but also increase hip mobility by stretching the hip flexors as well. The most important thing about this exercise is that it be performed correctly, and I know that reading this explanation is probably quite confusing, so that is why I have put together a video to share with you. If you have any other questions feel free to contact me via email or by calling my office.

Take some time to implement this exercise into your daily routine, along with the others that we discussed in previous posts, to take your game to the next level.

Which Injuries Keep Tour Pros Off The Course?

I stumbled across a great interview of Kam Bhabra over the weekend, and it got me thinking about the most common injuries that golfers suffer.  For those of you who are not familiar with Kam, or his work, he is a physiotherapist who is based primarily in Australia, but has spent quite a bit of time abroad.  He works with the Arsenal Football Club, but more importantly to this discussion, he has worked with PGA pros Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Ben Crane, Frederik Jacobson, and Brian Davis, among others.  So he has gathered quite a bit of experience in dealing with these elite athletes.  And now I want to share some of his insights, and some of mine as well, with you so that you can take this information and use it to limit your injury potential.

Mark Calcaveccia Is Experiencing A Very Common Golf Related Injury

Mr. Bhabra gave a list of the most common injuries that he has encountered in working with golfers, both amateur and professional.  The most common injury that golfers encounter is lower back pain, which he attributes to the combination of flexion coupled with unilateral rotation.  This coupled motion is the most common mechanism of injury for a lumbar disc herniation.  And a disc herniation will most likely sideline any golfer for quite a while.  One way to limit the injury potential is to focus on your posture during the swing, making sure to limit forward flexion by maintaining a normal lumbar curvature.  As an example of the stresses placed on the spine, keep in mind the sheer number of swings that we take during an average round of golf.  If you assume that the average score for a round of golf is probably around a 90 (this is just an estimate), and you subtract the number of putts approximately 18, that brings our total number of swings down to a 72.  Now if you are anything like most golfers, you probably take a practice swing prior to each of those 72 swings, which will bring our total number of swings to 144 on the day…  That is a lot of swings and a lot of potential trauma to the lumbar spine.  The best way to control the stresses placed on your spine is to incorporate core stability exercises off the course, and maintain a core contraction while swinging the club.

The next injury that he discussed is shoulder impingement, which is a much more common injury than many people realize.  Shoulder impingement is most commonly caused by the humeral head beginning to ride higher in the shoulder joint, which narrows the opening through which the supraspinatus tendon passes.  During the golf swing, the posterior structures of the shoulder become tighter which will cause the humeral head to be drawn posteriorly and superiorly in the glenohumeral joint.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that shoulder is a very complex joint, which requires mobility at the glenohumeral joint, while increasing stability at the scapula.  The stability in the scapula will allow for more controlled movement in the glenohumeral joint.  Exercise and controlled movement will allow us to improve shoulder function as well as limit injury potential.

Another injury with Mr. Bhabra discussed was hip pain.  Hip pain is VERY closely linked to the first injury we discussed, because lower back and hip function are impossible to separate from one another.  The function of the hips directly impact the lower back, and vice versa.  Much like the discussion of the shoulder above we have two areas which have different requirements.  The lumbar spine requires stability, and the hips will require mobility.  In order to increase mobility in the hips we need to increase strength through resistance exercise, and also increase mobility by utilizing dynamic stretching.

These three injuries are the most common injuries that golfers encounter, and there are relatively simple ways to prevent these injuries from occurring.  But now is the time to begin your preparation, so that you are not forced to miss any time on the course with an easily preventable injury.  If you have any questions about how you should approach your injury prevention or corrective exercises, do not hesitate to contact me at drwbleam@morrisonchiropractic.com.

Stuart Appleby Overcomes Back Pain During Week Of The Masters

Stuart Appleby prepares for the 2011 Masters

Masters week is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  The anticipation of the the first major tournament of the season is exciting for those of us who watch these events, but imagine how exciting it must be for the guys who have the honor of playing Augusta National.  Many of these players will tailor every aspect of their training to prepare their minds and bodies for this event.  Now I want you to put yourself in the shoes of one of those lucky enough to have the honor of playing in this event. 

Stuart Appleby, a nine time winner on the PGA Tour,  woke up on the Monday of Masters week with pain in his lower back that he described as “really, really, really bad.”  He went on to state that “it felt like a 300 pound guy had jumped on my back.“  Appleby was unable to even assume the golf stance on Monday or Tuesday, because of the pain, but he used that time to ice.  His trainer, Vern McMillan, told him he should “ice, ice, ice,” which he did.  McMillan also told Allenby “if it came this quick, it could go just as quick.”and when he woke up on Wednesday morning he was able to move a little better, and he was able to play a nine-hole practice round later in the day.  He was able to play 2 days after the onset of the pain!  That is pretty amazing!

Appleby was able to overcome his injury much more quickly than the average golfer, or human for that matter, would be able to.  The primary reason for this is that he is a well-conditioned athlete.  The secondary reason is that he listened to some wise advice and utilized the anti-inflammatory properties of ice.  The other take home message from this situation is that Appleby noted that he had to modify his swing to adapt for the injury.  He stated that his “power is down a fair bit – one club with the irons – and at the same time I’ve lost a bit of control, because I’m not consistent. I just can’t hit it any harder.”

Despite his injury, Appleby recorded a 3-over 75 on Day One on the Masters Tournament.  We will have to wait and see what Day Two brings.

It is important for us all to understand that injuries happen, but what really matters is how we recover and when we are able to return to the course.  And when we return we have to know how to adapt our game to the changes that have occurred in our body.