Can I improve my Golf Handicap?

Golf is a sport that retains its participants throughout their lifetimes. Low back pain comprises over half of all golfing injuries in the recreational golfer (McCarroll 1996). Females reported a lower incidence of golfing low back pain, with more wrist & elbow symptoms. Females have shorter vertebral endplate dimensions enabling a greater range of movement (Twomey 1987). This may perhaps reduce the risk of damage during end of range rotary movements.

In the older golfer there can be increased stiffening of the intervertebral disc, coupled with degenerative thinning in 30% of the population with the subsequent reduction in general range of movement, increasing the risk of low back pain (Twomey 1987).

An exercise programme should be designed specifically for the individual golfer. The goals being to correct deficits in activation, control, strength & endurance of the trunk, especially the segmental stabilisers of multifidus & transversus abdominus. Swing should be assessed as well as method of placing the ball or retrieving it from the hole. Mobilisation &/or manipulation may be useful to decrease intersegmental stiffness, however without an accompanying well-designed stabilising exercise programme, effects will be short term.

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McCarroll, Retig & Shelbourne. (1990). Injuries in the amateur golfer. The Physician & Sports Medicine, 18(3):22-126.

Twomey & Taylor (1987). Lumbar posture, movement & mechanics. In Twomey & Taylor (Eds). Physical Therapy of the Low Back. New York : Churchill Livingstone.

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