Why do golfers need chiropractic care? The short answer: golf is an asymmetrical sport. The long answer illustrates why chiropractic and golf go together like a touring pro and his caddie.
Asymmetrical Sports Need Chiropractic Care
When you play asymmetrical sports (e.g. golf, tennis and baseball) you’ll naturally develop bilateral asymmetry of trunk muscles. In other words, the muscles on the dominant side of your body will be more developed than the corresponding muscle on the other side.
In golf, this bilateral asymmetry of trunk muscles is because of the trunk rotation in one direction during the golf swing.1 The asymmetrical and forceful nature of the golf swing along with excessive play and practice explains the high frequency of lower back pain among golfers. Lower back pain account for between 18% and 54% of all documented ailments, leading many researchers to regard low back pain as the most common injury afflicting golfers.2
If you play golf, chances are good that at some point you’re going to suffer a low back injury.
Chiropractic and Golf Injuries
This is where chiropractic care comes in. In its 2017 clinical guidelines, the American College of Physicians (ACP) suggests that spinal manipulation may help people with acute or chronic low-back pain.3
Chiropractic care is delivered by licensed health care professionals called chiropractors. A chiropractic treatment typically involves manual therapy, often including spinal manipulation. Other forms of treatment are also used by chiropractors to treat injuries such as:
- therapeutic exercise
- therapeutic ultrasound
- soft tissue mobilization
- spinal traction
- cold laser therapy
- transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS)
Other Golf Injuries
However, golf injuries aren’t confined to low back pain. The average golfer takes more than 300 swings per day. Since many play this sport for decades, it’s little wonder that injuries plague participants. Other common golf injuries include :
- hip pain
- rotator cuff tendonitis (shoulder pain)
- hand and wrist injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome
- elbow inflammation
- strains, sprains, and tendonitis of the knees, ankles and feet
Chiropractic and Golf
Chiropractors are specifically trained to treat the entire neuromusculoskeletal system. Their training makes them a great choice to treat golf injuries since every joint in the body is involved in some way in the golf swing.
The modern golf swing pushes each of these joints through its maximum range and places increased force on spinal discs and facet joints and tremendous pressure on the trailing side of the spine. Some estimates indicate that professional golfers experience about 7500 N of compressive force on the spine during the downswing. This is about eight times the weight of the average human. This force is comparable to the compressive forces calculated for football linemen while striking a blocking sled.4,5
If you’re a golfer, you should be seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis. The touring pros on the PGA tour do. According to Dr. LaFountain, director of chiropractic services for the PGA, 72 % of pro golfers receive regular chiropractic care provided by PGA chiropractic staff.
It’s relatively easy to find a chiropractor who can treat low back pain. However, it may be difficult to find a chiropractor who understands the biomechanics of the golf swing well enough to keep you golfing at your best.