Massage “Fore” Golfers

golf club and ball

With better weather come the golfers – warming up their game from weeks or months off during the winter months, and coaxing the body into returning to the great form they had as they left off last year. Golf looks deceptively simple, but the mechanics of the swing, coupled with the physicality of walking long distances during each round impact the body, in some ways, negatively.

The biomechanics of the golf swing involve the whole body, from the stance of the feet, up through the balance of the knees, the stability and movement of the pelvis and platform for the swivel that occurs during the swing, up to the shoulders and the wrists and hands propelling the club down at a fast speed to set the ball in motion. As such, the body’s entire system of soft tissue (from ligaments and tendons to muscles and fascia) are affected. These soft tissues bear the brunt of the force of such a fast, but short-duration movement.

Injuries are common in golf as in many other sports, but in the case of golf specifically, there are common injury patterns and areas that massage can help with:

Not only can injuries surface from weak muscles, but poor technique and mechanics can wreak havoc on the golfer. The swing, requiring great rotation and compression, asks for the entire body’s cooperation, if not heeded, disaster can strike. Fortunately for veteran golfers like former PGA member Jerry Impellittiere, there is a way to fight back.

“I went for massage initially because I had very tight muscles which were affecting my game,” recalls the 53-year-old Impellittiere, who lives in Palm City, Fla., and plays golf almost every day, as well as takes part in tournaments like the recent Senior PGA. “The deep- tissue massage I got two to three times a week worked right away, elongating my muscles and really helping with my flexibility.” Impellittiere, who has been swinging his clubs since age 10 and been a pro for the past 30 years, adds, “I would recommend massage for all golfers, as they suffer from so many different injuries which can be relieved by this means.”

via Massage Helping Move Golfers “Fore”ward || Massage Therapy Articles.

The issues most common with golfers involve the neck, shoulders and the rotator cuff structure, the elbow (thus golfer’s elbow), and the lower back/glutes. The lower back issues can sometimes present as sciatica-like symptoms, or as pain in the lower lumbar area that is concentrated on one side.

Because golfers have a swing that is either right- or left-handed, one side of the muscles attaching the pelvis to the spine become tight, and sometimes refer pain down into the hips/glutes/legs.

When I massage golfers, I focus a lot of attention on the lower back and hips with deep tissue, neuromuscular therapy, myofascial release and some passive stretching. I also suggest clients work with physical therapists, personal trainers, or sports pros who specialize in golf to get an individualized set of stretches and strengthening exercises to improve their game and reduce their pain/discomfort level.

For more information, see the great link above (Massage Helping Move Golfers “Fore”ward) for more on golf, its effects on the body and how massage can assist golfers. Or, come see me for a massage in Louisville or Nashville and experience it first hand.

Photo credit: CCL user chispita 666


  1. Andrea Young said,

    April 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Love your blogs Heather! I don’t know how I found your information, probably just surfing the net. I have been following you for a few months and I just wanted to let you know I appreciate them. I recently opened a second office at a Country Club and this was very informative.
    Thanks again!

  2. Heather Wibbels said,

    April 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Glad you like them. I actually saw that you tweeted the same golf article (I follow your tweets). I don’t know how we got connected, but I enjoy your tweets, too! I’m sure your MTs in the country club can make good use of the info. Golfers can be so serious about their game that massage can become a real help for their scores! If you have any blog ideas or suggestions, send them my way. I’ve got some requests for lower back and lower leg/feet self-massage I’ll be doing for next month. :-)

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