An avid golfer abruptly goes up to a golf pro at the shop and says, “I want to fix my swing but I don’t want to do any of that correctional functional crap. Just give me a better driver”. The golf pro takes a moment, looks at the guy and hands him a lamp. “Here, rub on this”. The guy looks at the lamp and starts rubbing it when all of a sudden…whack! The golf pro broke his arm with a $2,000 driver and said, “Okay now you got your magical wish, I just fixed your golf swing with a new driver and the best part of the whole thing is that you don’t have to do any of that correctional functional crap.”
As comical as that may sound, it’s close to what people actually do to themselves. Many individuals are looking for some kind of magical lamp or expensive piece of equipment to fix whatever dysfunction they have in their kinetic chain. When you realize that you are inhibited from good-form in a sport, such as golf, there is more going on than just a bad golf swing.
Many of us work at a job that may have active repetition or non-activity that could create many different dysfunctions. One example is sitting behind a desk using a keyboard. Sedentary positions for long periods of time cause tight hip flexors, a weak back and rolled shoulders. It can also cause neck strain from long periods of looking at a computer screen. If you are that person who wants to fix your golf swing but not fix the problem, you are not much different than the person in our joke above, except the golf pro is not the one causing the damage, you are.
I sat down and spoke with President of the Utah division of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Henry White. So far, White is the only Class A PGA member and practicing physical therapist.
“I’m not out to just fix the problem, I’m out to make a healthier human being,” White said.
In defining his philosophy in terms of physical therapy, it is more important to fix the imbalances found in the kinetic chain, ensuring the injury does not continue to reoccur. Often when an athlete is injured and is rehabilitated through proper mechanics, the athlete can actually increase functional motion and stabilization. In some instances the vital information learned in physical therapy can be utilized to enhance and expand the training techniques needed to properly protect the primary muscles from unbalances of weak secondary muscles.
Allow me to simplify a common dysfunction so you can have a better understanding of the kinetic chain and how our body compensates for a weak element.
Let’s say you pull a minor muscle rolling your ankle stepping off a curb or something a little more extreme. Now with your injury you are walking with some sort of limp, causing the hips to tilt. The opposite leg compensates for the injury. At first the body is doing an amazing job adjusting to the awkward movement, but very soon your back begins to hurt, your shoulders and neck become tight. In time the pain and compensation feels normal but it is anything but normal. Your entire kinetic chain is out of alignment from the injury, causing damage throughout your muscular system. At this point you probably focus on the injury, what you might not be aware at this point is the tight muscles in your lower back prior to your accident. These muscles were pulling on your hips causing a chain reaction that started with instability in your knee, creating a weak muscle in your calf, allowing your ankle to roll when stepping off a curb. This is just one element in the kinetic chain that can cause havoc throughout the entire body. Your body works in symmetry with all the functions throughout the kinetic chain in addition to the nervous and respiratory system. Understanding the root cause and solution to these problems will take some knowledge and experience from someone such as a physical therapist, certified trainer or a specialist, depending on the extent of the damage.
You have one body and unlike your vehicle it comes without warranties. Minor problems that we live with soon become major issues. Unfortunately there are no trade-ins. There is more to the human machine and biomechanics than one could ever imagine. As you get more involved towards a healthier body, you will realize there are muscles to strengthen and muscles that need to be lengthened, cardio for blood circulation and oxygen distribution, and nutrition for energy and internal health. Sometimes this all becomes a bit overwhelming. That is why we have physical therapists and personal trainers to help educate people like you for a lifetime of better health.
Often when we get injured, it is from a weak link in the biomechanics. Habitually the injury reoccurs. We must take the proper approach by training the entire body opposed to just the injured area. In a world filled with toxins, pollutants, chemicals, preservatives and hereditary diseases, this is one area of your health you can take control of.