As far as our health is concerned, it turns out that our bodies were not really made for playing golf. Here’s some pretty technical information about the golf swing and our health.
A proper body turn, as it is termed in golfing circles, requires cervical and trunk rotational flexibility. If inadequate flexibility or dysfunctional joint mechanics exist, the golfer must compensate with other segmental involvement to achieve a full and proper backswing. Golfers with limited rotation or significant dysfunction in the cervical spine have difficulty keeping the club head still during the golf swing as they attempt to rotate back and through the golf swing. For this reason many golfers practice with the Medicus Driver as a way of correcting their golf swing. Severe rotational limits in the cervical spine can even cause golfers to lose their secondary spine angles as they attempt to keep their eyes on the ball. Ironically, this motion increases stress to the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines over time.
A golfer with limited mobility in his thoracic cage will need to produce more rotation in his lumbar spine and hips to produce a full rotary golf backswing. This will inevitably increase stress on both the hyper- and hypomobile segments of the thoracic and lumbar spine. Likewise, the swing of a golfer using a Medicus club and very little rotational motion in the lumbar spine and pelvis will place greater demand on the upper torso and its motion segments. This common compensatory action of the upper and lower portions of the torso can cause an imbalance in the contributions of the two segments, which may create extreme rotational torques and can possibly lead to injury and performance changes that are not advantageous to the golfer.
The downswing phase is responsible for generating club-head speed and therefore places the body under extreme loads. During the downswing the torso undergoes a rapid change of direction that involves sequential segmental rotation, linear movement, forward trunk flexion, and lateral bending, all in one combined movement. With the help of the Medicus driver, the average golfer goes through this coiling/uncoiling process approximately 110 to 130 times during a typical day of golfing (warm-ups, practice, and match strokes). If the golfer does not possess sufficient endurance and control of his or her trunk musculature, motor fatigue can occur and subsequent compensatory movement patterns will take over. When poor motor endurance and flexibility coexist with poor body and swing mechanics, the golfer is exposed to the possibility of injury.
The role of the left arm in controlling the plane of the golfing downswing, combined with the delay between hip and shoulder girdle rotation, places significant stress on the left rotator cuff musculature. As the body “uncoils” towards the target, it pulls on the elevated arm and rotator cuff muscles as they are working to externally rotate the arm. Limitations in the amount of left shoulder motion can potentially place even greater loads on the posterior cuff musculature, and may eventually lead to significant rotator cuff pathology with increased practice using the Medicus Driver and play. Abnormal scapular mobility and stability can place further stresses on the capsular and muscular restraints of the glenohumeral joint, particularly on the lead side.