The Jack Nicklaus style swing used by modern professional players involves a limited lumbopelvic rotation in the back swing resulting in a greater relative rotation of the torso. The follow through is characterized by a hyper-extended spinal position, known as the reverse “C” directing the momentum upwards.
During backswing, the muscles most active in the upper body are the upper and middle trapezius on the right and the subscapularis and serratus anterior muscles on the left. The levator scapulae helps with scapular tilting. In the lower body, The lumbopelvic movement from hamstring muscles transfers the body weight to the right side. The left oblique also contracts to aid trunk rotation in this phase. A lack of trunk rotation makes the shoulder rotators work harder over time, leading to overuse injuries.
Downward movement begins in the hip which initiates corresponding movement of the upper body. In the down swing phase, the right gluteals are very active to extend the right hip. The gluteus medius is active on the right to aid rotation and the vastus lateralis is active on the left for weight acceptance. Strong contraction of the right biceps femoris aids in the transfer of body weight back to the left side. The low body motion is followed by the upper body as pectoral muscles and serratus anterior rapidly return the arms in preparation to hit the ball. A large “flexor burst” increase in wrist flexor muscle activity happens in the forearms just before impact. This is the cause of most wrist and elbow injuries.
During the follow through phase, muscles, especially the rotator cuff, are eccentrically loaded to decelerate the body and club, producing shoulder injury.
By understanding the synergistic action of the muscles of the upper and lower body during the golf swing, a therapist can assist in prevention of the three most common golf injuries: lower back; wrist/ elbow; and shoulder.
At Pt Pro Golf, we understand the needs of golf enthusiasts, both amateur and professional. We can provide therapy to effectively optimize your body mechanics to improve your game. As your body’s tissue changes your game changes. Pt Pro Golf helps your changes move toward the better.
Contributed by Jeff Juraska, PT
Br J Sports Med 2005;39:799-804 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2005.020271