A Golf Expo Pain Report

So we just concluded our vendorship at the Fox Cities Golf Expo.  And as always, between plugging how we can help the attendees move better to feel better and play more enjoyable golf, networking with other courses and pros, and trying to keep our own money in our wallet on the deals within proximity, we had to run our own little dorky study.

After all, if we were going to spend 15 hours with mostly strangers...selfishly we wanted something more than to educate the public...we wanted to learn and educate ourselves from the public.  

So here's the BIG case study...are you ready?  When we engaged with someone (roughly 150 of the 6,000 attendees actually stopped to talk to us...I know, golf fitness and rehab is that scary!) in the course of getting to know them, we simply asked, "What is your biggest ache or pain with golf?"

The winner?  Well, we assumed it would be a clear cut favorite for low back pain.  And we heard our fair share of that.  

But surprisingly (not really that surprisingly, read on) the most common answer was elbow pain.  

So we became curious after the first day.  On the 2nd and 3rd day we decided we would increase the specifics of our very informal, but selfishly interesting study.  

When someone would say "elbow pain" as the most common, we would run the Titleist Performance Institute standards for elbow/wrist assessment.  BUT, we had a hunch.  So much so that we would also run the pelvic rotation/disassociation TPI standard test for these individuals (assuming they didn't give us a "what's this guy doing with my pelvis" look and run away).

What we found was that more often than not, the individuals reporting elbow pain as their leading concern with golf related pain would score a "pass" on the elbow/wrist testing, but would significantly struggle with the pelvic rotation testing.  

Debunking all of the likely issues, biases, and assumptions with this study aside, why do you think we would've jumped from elbow/wrist testing to pelvic rotation testing out of our own curiosity?

Well, our experience (and our past literature) has stressed that many elbow pains or symptoms are not actually elbow "problems."  And really within the realm of swing characteristics as educated to us by the Titleist Performance Institute many elbow problems are a "lower body" problem causing the golf swing to become, what we like to call, more "armsy" or "handsy."  

Imagine swinging a golf club standing completly upright.  It's going to be heavy upper body and arms.  If you can actually hinge your hips, use your legs, rotate your pelvis and transfer energy, your arms and hands get to "go along for the ride." (all other variables equal) 

If you can't rotate your pelvis very well, use the ground and your legs, and sequence the swing in an efficient fashion, your upper body and arms end up having to make up a lot of ground.  And this results in the forearm musculature getting not only repetitive stress but excessive stress.  

Now, there are ways that we can tell beyond this if your elbow pain is likely coming from a lack of use of the lower body or an inefficient swing sequence vs. just having grip or forearms strength deficits, joint or ligament issues, or other orthopedic concerns.  Location of pain and handedness of swing can tell us a lot about that alone.  But we never like to guess, we like to assess.  

Otherwise, if you feel like you've been struggling with elbow issues AND those elbow issues seem to be primarily golf related...make sure you find an individual who can assess well beyond the elbow alone.  And make sure that individual is able to evaluate energy transfer and sequence in your swing to see if your arms and elbows are potentially "over-doing" it.  

For more tips and information on our golf rehab and performance programming, please go to www.motusrx.com/golf-performance/