Herniated lumbar discs. Torn acetabular labrum. Meniscus tear. Hernia.
This is NOT the injury report from the NFL, but rather, injuries sustained by high profile professional golfers over the past few years. You might think that a non-contact sport popular amongst the retiree demographic would be easy on the joints, but that is not always the case.
As golf fans surely know, the Players Championship–the largest-prized competition in golf–was supposed to be held this past weekend, but was canceled due to public health concerns. If you’re anything like us, you’re bummed to miss out on superstars like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Ricky Fowler. Ever wonder how they got to the point of playing without handicaps? While the obvious answer is that they are extremely talented individuals who dedicate their entire life to practicing their craft, there is a large scientific component to their game as well.
The Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) is the world’s leading educational organization committed to studying the human body in relation to the golf swing. TPI has collected data for more than 13 years and developed a program designed to teach professional golf instructors, fitness trainers, and medical professionals—including physical therapists—how to evaluate a golfer’s swing and overall body mechanics.
A TPI Certified Medical Professional seeks to educate the golf-playing public on the importance of the body and how it relates to the golf swing. There is no “correct” way to swing a golf club. Rather, there are an infinite number of ways to hit a ball. A TPI Certified Medical Professional will help identify the most efficient swing for a specific person based on the person’s individual physical capabilities. These capabilities are determined by utilizing a specific screening tool designed by TPI.
The physical screen assesses mobility, stability, and muscle imbalances. Following this assessment, the individual receives their results—including their potential swing characteristics based on the findings of the screen. The TPI Medical Professional would then provide a prescription of corrective exercises. For those with more involved pain or history of injury, we can also outline an individualized treatment plan that may include manual therapy, strengthening, and proprioceptive training. Re-assessments take place throughout the treatment program to evaluate progress and modify the plan accordingly.
As physical therapists, we’re also able to utilize the screening to assess for any potential risk of injury. For example, someone with limited spine mobility will be at a greater risk of having low back pain or potential disc herniation. Another example is someone with core weakness who could potentially experience hip pain and be at greater risk for injuries of the acetabular labrum.
The golf swing is a complex total body movement that is performed over and over again throughout a round of golf, and then over and over again throughout the course of the golf season. If an individual repeatedly performs the same movement pattern with poor or compensated mechanics, additional stress is placed on an already vulnerable body part or joint which can lead to more devastating injuries. That is why it is important to identify these characteristics and correct them so you can keep playing throughout the season.
So as the weather begins to get warmer, make sure to schedule your TPI evaluation so that you’re healthy and ready to go for the rest of the season. TPI Medical Professionals work closely with many golf professionals and swing coaches to ensure the optimal treatment plan for each golfer and getting you to play your best game yet!
Editor’s note: Mike Gaeta, PT, DPT, CSCS, TPI is an avid golfer and former collegiate baseball player. While TPI was developed specifically for the golf population, the screenings can be applied to any rotational sport including tennis, hockey or baseball. If interested in scheduling a complimentary TPI screen, call our Westfield office or request an appointment online. Westfield isn’t convenient? Give us a call and we’ll find the TPI Medical Professional nearest you.