Category: Fitness

  • Is Your Golf Swing Setting You Up for Injury?

    Although approximately 30 million Americans play golf, it comes with the risk of injury to the chiropractic-health/chiropractic-neck-pain/” target=”_blank”>neck, mid and lower back, upper extremities, hips, and knees. During an average 18 hole game of golf, a golfer will take approximately 70-150 swings with an opportunity to injure themselves with each swing. In fact, a study of PGA players showed that approximately 77% of all professional golfers report having acute or chronic low back pain from golfing. Considering the amateur golfer typically has less than excellent golf-swing mechanics and rarely trains year-round in order to golf, it is reasonable to assume that the amateur golfer’s incidence of injury is as high as or higher than that for the professional golfer. The majority of golf injuries are usually caused by poor swing mechanics resulting from physical limitations, poor posture, and decreased flexibility. Therefore, it makes sense that golf injury prevention requires building a fundamentally sound golf swing, reducing golf swing faults, and performing golf-specific exercises and flexibility training.

    When addressing the ball, the golfer should assume a stance of about 45 degrees of forward bending of the low back and have the neck in a neutral posture. Excessive bending at address can result in straining the muscles of the spine. In addition, poor posture while addressing the ball will restrict rotation of the spine and decrease club head speed. This restriction in spinal rotation causes golfers to swing too fast, have an accentuated backswing and over-swing. All of this can lead to injuring the back muscles or even the discs.

    In order to prevent you from injuring yourself with your golf swing, let’s discuss what to do:

    Grip

    To grip the club properly, the thumb and forefinger of each hand should form a V. The V’s formed by the thumb and forefinger of each hand should be parallel. Typically, the forefinger of the lead hand is interlocked with the pinky finger of the trail hand. A proper grip is one in which the club is held firmly by 5 fingers: the middle, ring and little fingers of the left hand, and the middle and ring fingers of the right hand (for a right handed golfer).

    Setup/Address

    To address the ball properly, let your arm hang. Your arms should hang under your shoulders and feel relaxed when you address the ball. Your hands should be closer to your body for leverage. You should be looking in at your hands, not out at them. Don’t feel as if you are reaching for the ball. A bad setup leads to a bad backswing which leads to trying to correct the problems on the downswing. At address, your lead shoulder should be higher than the other and your head should be behind the ball.

    Backswing

    A controlled backswing, where the hands, arms, shoulders, hips, knees and feet all move in rhythm is necessary to create the kinetic energy and smooth movements necessary to initiate the golf swing. Unless you possess incredible flexibility in the shoulder and hip joints and unrestricted ability to move the spine, a short backswing will create greater kinetic energy than a big backswing. Power is not stored in the backswing. Power is built in the backswing and released in the downswing. Therefore, a big backswing isn’t necessary. Shortening the length of the backswing to a ½ or ¾ backswing will create more power. To generate optimum force from your golf swing, take a short backswing and then change directions as quickly as possible when you go from the backswing to the downswing.

    For a right handed golfer:

    During the initial movement of the backswing, the left shoulder moves across the torso until the shoulder joint reaches its end range of motion. This movement is followed by upper torso rotation. Individuals with poor shoulder and upper torso flexibility will attempt to compensate during their backswing by bending their left elbow thereby collapsing the arc of the backswing, or lifting their head or torso. Ultimately, at the top of the backswing, you want a straight left arm and a right arm which is bent at 90 degrees at the elbow.

    When visualizing a backswing, think of the body as having 3 parts stacked on top of each other: the top portion: the shoulder which rotates the most; the middle portion: the hips; and the lower portion: the legs which remain stable.

    Downswing

    During the downswing the left arm should be parallel to the plane line of the ball and the target. During the downswing, the body uncoils from the legs to the hips to the shoulders. Low back muscles only contribute about 5% of the total force involved in this movement. The oblique abdominal muscles are the primary rotators of the trunk and responsible for most of this movement. Ultimately, the backswing creates energy and the downswing releases it.

    Pivot Foot

    The right handed golfer must position his right pivot foot 90 degrees perpendicular to the plane line of the golf swing. The maintenance of a strong, stabilized pivot foot allows for the creation of the energy needed for a forceful golf swing. If your right pivot foot is not perpendicular to the target line of the golf swing then energy is lost and the golf shot will have a tendency of going offline to the right. Weakness of the gluteus muscles (buttocks muscles) which helps to stabilize the hip and knee joints and the quadriceps muscles (front thigh muscles) which are the primary weight supporting muscles during the backswing, will destabilize the right pivot foot causing offline golf shots.

    Ball Impact

    At impact, the right shoulder (for right handed golfers) moves under the chin and the hips rotate on a level plane. The position of the left hand directly influences the position of the clubface. At the moment of ball impact, the left hand should be flat and facing the target. Any movement of the left hand out of proper impact position will cause the clubface to not be square which will cause an offline shot.

    In the end, a balanced follow-through and finish is the hallmark of a good golf swing. At the finish you should be facing the target.

  • Yoga For Your Health

    Yoga is often used for stress relief, increasing strength and flexibility, and promoting health. It is utilized by approximately 6 million Americans as part of their healthcare / workout regime. So what is yoga? How does it work? And what does it help?

    Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “union”. It is a spiritual practice that uses the body, breath, and mind to energize and balance the whole person. Originally it began years ago as part of the Hindu healing science known as Ayurveda.

    How does yoga work?

    Scientists don’t know exactly how yoga produces its healthful effects. Some say it works like other mind-body therapies to reduce stress, and others believe that it promotes the release of endorphins (natural painkillers) from the brain.

    Yoga includes three major techniques: breathing, exercise (asana), and meditation. These three techniques have been shown to improve health in many ways:

    Breathing lessons – in yoga, breathwork is known as pranayama. Pranayama increases blood circulation, which brings more oxygen to the brain, and enlarges lung capacity, as lung tissue becomes more elastic and the surrounding muscle more flexible. Getting ample air into our lungs helps us to feel alert and focused.
    Asanas – known to enhance strength, flexibility, and balance. Some asanas are designed to massage the internal organs, improve circulation, hormone function, digestion, and other body processes. The Plow, for example, is a basic posture used in Hatha yoga in which you lie on your back (arms at sides, palms down) and stretch your legs overhead until your toes touch the floor. This posture is believed to stimulate the thyroid and parathyroid glands, enhance the flexibility of the back, stretch the nerves and muscles of the back and legs, improve posture, relieve constipation, and reduce body fat.
    Meditation – has been shown to reduce blood pressure, chronic pain, anxiety, cholesterol levels, and substance abuse.
    What does a yoga session entail?

    Hatha yoga sessions are usually group classes that last from about 45 minutes to an hour. Each session begins with a gentle warm-up exercise and proceeds on to the three yoga disciplines: breathing lessons, asanas, and meditation. The therapist will first focus on breathing technique and he or she may guide you through several breathing exercises. The therapist will then direct the class through a series of yoga postures. Each posture will be practiced from one to three times. As you hold postures, you may be instructed to perform certain breathing techniques. After three or four different postures, you’ll be allowed to rest. Once you’ve completed the exercises, there is usually a period of physical relaxation combined with meditation.

    How many sessions will I need?

    Classes may be taken once a week (or more, if desired) for as long as it is helpful to you. Your yoga therapist may also ask you to practice asanas at home to improve your flexibility.

    What is yoga good for?

    Yoga improves fitness, lowers blood pressure, promotes relaxation, and reduces stress and anxiety. People who practice yoga tend to have good coordination, posture, flexibility, range of motion, concentration, sleep habits, and digestion. Yoga is a complementary therapy that has been used with traditional therapies to treat a wide range of conditions, including cancer, diabetes, chiropractic-health/arthritis-relief/” target=”_blank”>arthritis, asthma, heart disease, migraine, and AIDS. Yoga alone is not an effective cure for any particular disease.

    Is there anything I should look out for?

    When done properly, yoga is not stressful or tiring, but some people may experience stiffness as their bodies adapt to different postures. Avoid yoga if you’ve had a recent back injury and be sure to check with your doctor before trying yoga if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or arthritis. Some postures are not recommended during pregnancy, but special classes are available for pregnant women. Some postures should not be practiced during menstruation-ask your instructor. Be sure to tell the instructor and contact your doctor if any exercises cause headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, or severe pain in your back, legs, or joints.

  • How to Strengthen Your Back

    Your spine is supported by many groups of muscles. You have large muscles such as your abdominal, iliopsoas, and quadratus lumborum muscles that are primarily designed for performing movement. It is important for they to be strong for you to perform your normal activities without hurting your spine. If these muscles are not strong enough to perform the activity that you are doing, extra stress is put on your spine and can cause serious injury to your spinal ligaments or discs. An example of this is someone who tries to move a piece of furniture that is heavier than what they are used to lifting and hurts their back. At the same time, we have patients in our office who work as professional movers lifting furniture every day without back injury. The difference is the professional movers’ muscles are used to the work and can handle it. So, it is important to keep your abdominal muscles and back muscles strong in order to prevent back injury as you perform your everyday activities such as lifting your kids out of car seats, yardwork, household chores, or sporting activities. Exercise regimes that strengthen these muscles are easily found everywhere from your local gym to home workout programs to downloadable exercises that you can find on the internet.

    The other group of muscles that you need to be concerned about are the small muscles that connect the individual vertebrae in your spine together. These tiny muscles are what stabilize your spine. When they get weak your body recruits the larger muscles to do their job. That is why your back muscles can get tight or stiff, the larger muscles are doing the job of the smaller ones. Therefore, in order to loosen up your back, it is important to strengthen your tiny stabilizing muscles. They are often weak when people have back pain. The best way to strengthen these muscles is through the use of the large exercise or physioballs. This gives you an unstable surface to exercise on and makes those stabilizing muscles work. Other things such as foam discs and rocker or wobble boards also gives you unstable surfaces that will cause you to work those stabilizing muscles. You can talk to your chiropractor or other healthcare professional to get some exercises to help with your particular condition.