Fore! The Love of the Game

This past week I travelled to Carlsbad, California at the Kia Classic to prepare LPGA Tour Player, KatherineKatherine Hull-Kirk for her tournament week golf fitness program.  Because of Katherine’s past injury history, I always begin our first session of the week with a thorough assessment.  We begin with a subjective checklist of how her body is feeling from head to toe, and then we move into more golf specific areas such as how does full swing feel, what is her swing coach specifically wanting out of her swing, what aspects of her game she feels needs improvement, etc.  Next I simply evaluate how she holds her body in a static position by doing a posture analysis.  I then proceed to a gait analysis because she will in fact walk three or more miles per round.  I do not want to miss a dysfunctional movement that over time could potentially cause injury or detrimental compensation patterns.  I conclude our evaluation session with a Selective Functional Movement Assessment that I learned from a phenomenal physical therapist named Gray Cook and one of the co-founders of the Titleist Performance Instituted Greg Rose.  This is the meat and potatoes if you will.  Any dysfunctional movement pattern is thoroughly broken down to determine the cause of the dysfunction.  I place a great deal of emphasis on this part of the process for two primary reasons:  1.  Dysfunctional movement can lead to injury, and 2.  Dysfunctional movement can restrict Katherine from obtaining her optimal golf swing.   Because golf is a one-sided and repetitive motion sport, the injuries that result from dysfunctional movement can be costly to a tour pro, but they can be even more detrimental to our amateur golfers.

Once the evaluation is complete, it’s time to get down and dirty.  I first will address and tissue quality issues by implementing specific self-myofascial release techniques that will address any restricting trigger points Katherine may have.  We then work through a series of corrective exercises to address the specific dysfunctional patterns that are present.  Katherine will then perform a dynamic warm-up.  This process will occur before a workout or a round of golf.  The dynamic warm-up prior a workout is quite different than the golf dynamic warm-up Katherine performs prior to hitting the putting green. Below is a simple golf dynamic warm up that you can use.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVaXvLiA7Us&w=560&h=315]

You cannot expect to stave off injury or perform well on the course unless your body is properly warmed-up.

Once Katherine has completed her self-myofascial release/trigger point therapy, her corrective exercises,
and her dynamic warm-up, we then proceed through any power development work, followed by her strength training, and concluded with a bout of interval training.  I do not recommend any long steady state cardiovascular routines for golfers.  This simply trains the wrong energy system.  The golf swing is a short, powerful movement.  Drudging along for 30 minutes on an elliptical machine is not going to get the job done here.  Okay, I will get off that rant as that will be discussed in it’s own article at a later date.

However, this does lead me to one of my greatest frustrations as a Titleist Performance Institute Golf Fitness and Golf Medical Instructor with over 22 years of experience as an nationally Certified Athletic Trainer.  Why are so many amateur golfers willing to spend thousands of dollars on new clubs, golf bags, green fees, and golf vacations, but rarely take care of THE most important piece of equipment…their BODY?  What if I told you I could actually help you eliminate or reduce pain (low back, shoulder, hip, etc.), while at the same time eliminating or reducing your physical limitations so you can achieve your optimal golf swing (with the help of your swing coach)?  Would you spend $150 to do that?  I think it is truly the best investment a golfer can make.

The next time I see Katherine I will once again conduct a full assessment and develop a non-tournament
week golf fitness routine.  At this point in time, I will also make any necessary changes to her tournament week golf fitness program.  It’s an evolutionary process throughout this very long season that typically runs from February to November for the LPGA Tour Pros.

Once Katherine’s season is complete, there is a meeting of the minds (Katherine, myself, and Katherine’s swing coach).  We conduct a full assessment of her year and develop a plan for her off-season.  And so the process begins again with a full assessment and then I move into the development and implementation phase of constructing an off-season golf fitness routine that will prepare Katherine for the coming LPGA Tour Season.

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Currently at State of Fitness, I have a diverse crew of amateur golfers who work through their individually designed golf fitness program, whether in a group setting or on a one-to-one basis.  Each has their own physical limitations and movement pattern dysfunctions, and therefore, has their own unique set of exercises.  Not only are they reducing pain and injury, but they are reaching new mobility and strength ranges that they never thought possible.  An added bonus is to see the encouragement and camaraderie that has developed among my golfers.  We have such a positive and empowering atmosphere at State of Fitness that it is infectious.

So, if an LPGA Tour Professional makes her primary equipment investment in her body to stave off injury and improve performance, why don’t you?  My passion is to help each individual golfer eliminate any dysfunctional movement that is creating pain or injury, and/or restricting them from having the golf swing they have always wanted.  I encourage you to invest in THE most important piece of equipment you have…YOUR BODY!  And don’t be nervous, I am pretty harmless…..at least on the first visit.  In all seriousness though, my goal is to help you decrease pain and injury, and overcome any physical restrictions that are limiting your golf game.  So give me a shout!  What do you have to lose?

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