Old Injuries, New Problems

Often times when getting assessed people tend to gloss over the specifics of their injury history, understandably as they don’t bring back the fondest of memories. Also, It’s sometimes easy to underestimate the severity of a few ankle sprains as a child or that nagging shoulder or knee that you’ve always worked around but never had checked out. Whichever the case may be, it’s potentially one of the most critical components to your development and performance. Let me tell you a story:

(The following name has been changed to protect identity)

Bob comes in for a golf assessment. He is a 15 handicap that has been playing for the last 20 years. He plays once a week and practices twice a week, but he’s frustrated that his game hasn’t improved in over 10 years. He has seen every pro in town and read every golf digest article he could find, but still struggles with ball striking consistency and accuracy in all of his longer clubs and has no idea what the problem could be. When asked about his injury history he quickly and confidently responds that he has never had a major injury and his body feels great.

He goes through the assessment and we see his limited hip mobility causes him to stand up, coming out of his posture at the top of his backswing. Initially we make him shorten his swing to accommodate his current range of motion, but we take him into the gym to improve and restore mobility. After a few weeks of rigorous strength based mobility programming we see some improvements, but slightly less than expected. We revisit his assessment file and see he was a college basketball player. We ask if he's ever had any lower extremity injuries that may have been omitted initially. He tells us that he can only remember a small partial ligament tear in his ankle back in high school, after which he didn’t need surgery or rehab, and was fine after a few weeks. Immediately we change the focus from the hip to the ankle. We perform a bodywork series, where we mobilize, release, and hydrate the compromised tissue in the ankle joint. Then, back in the gym, we retooled the program focus to fundamental lower body strength movements with specific progressions and variation in foot positioning. The end result was a 30% increase in right hip mobility which did wonders for his accuracy, ball striking consistency, and distance.

Cases like these happen all of the time. The body is an extremely synergistic system and the golf swing is a very synergistic operation. Having maximized function of the primary and auxiliary muscle groups and joints could be the difference between becoming 10 handicap and a scratch golfer. But, performance aside, this is a necessary step in minimizing your future risk injury. Restoring proper function to compromised areas in the body help ward off compensations that lead to bigger problems down the road.

The moral of the story is don’t be afraid to dive deeper into your injury history. The more we know about where your body has been the more we can do to change where your body is going. If you feel you may need to revisit the subject with your coach, trainer, or therapist please reach out and have the conversation. Attacking your injury history is one of the best things you could do for you body and your game.

Roger Steele