Golfer's Elbow

It’s Masters Week!!! If you are a golfer like me then this is basically the Super Bowl. It is also a very exciting time of year because, in the Northern part of the country, it’s the unofficial start to the golf season. Most golfers are dusting off the clubs and heading out to the course. Taking those first couple of swings feels great! Some of you though, won’t get through the first round without that pesky elbow pain coming back. You’ve gone all winter without any issues and the second you pick up your clubs the pain comes back. Well let’s make this golf season the first one that you get to play pain free.

So before we get into fixing your elbow, let’s talk about why you get elbow pain in the first place. Golfers elbow is pain on the inner portion of your trail arm. For a right handed golfer it would be pain in your right elbow.

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This pain comes from, what is called, casting the club from the top of the backswing. Rather than starting your downswing with your lower body. You are throwing the club at the top of the swing and letting your wrists break down before impact. This will overuse your wrist flexors which attach at that point in your elbow. The overuse, coupled with the impact of the ground, leads to a strain of the tendons and inflammation.

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Now that you know what causes the pai, let’s talk about how to fix it. Like I said earlier, your elbow pain is coming from a swing fault. Think of how many times you swing the club in a round (don’t forget to include your practice swings). That is a lot of repetitions. I always tell my clients to think of it like a bruise in your elbow you can’t see. Every swing you take is like poking the bruise. It will never get better until you stop poking it.

What you need to focus on, is starting your swing with your hips from the top of the backswing. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to feel like you are pausing at the top of your backswing. Once you pause, feel like you are twisting your hips towards your target and let your arms pause behind you. That delay will ensure you are starting your swing with your hips.

Now we need to talk about what your hands are doing at impact. Make sure your wrists don’t break down at impact. What I tell my clients to do with that is feel like the palm of your trail hand (right hand for right handed golfer) is covering the ball at impact.

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If you can do those two things I can guarantee you won’t have elbow pain this season. I can also guarantee you will start to notice an improvement in your handicap. Everyone wins! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Happy Masters Week Everyone!!!





How to Build a Powerful Golf Swing

Many of you may not know this but I actually started out as a volleyball player way before I was a golfer. I still play both sports and interestingly enough the more I train for volleyball, the more powerful my golf swing gets. I’m sure to most of you that doesn’t even begin to make sense. Allow me to explain why it works, and why you should start to incorporate some plyometric training into your golf fitness program.

When I talk about volleyball I’m purely talking about hitting. I LOVE hitting and I LOVE hitting it as hard as I possibly can. In order to be a good hitter in volleyball you need some key physical components. Other than being tall (trust me there are some great hitters that are short) you need to be able to jump. If you want to jump high you have to create a lot of what is called ground reaction force (nerdy physics term). What that basically means is the harder you can push down into the earth, the higher you will propel yourself up in the air.

Once you are up in the air you have to twist your shoulders and turn your vertical power into rotational power. To do this you have to have a really strong core. Otherwise all that great jumping power you have created will just be wasted. You might as well hit the ball with a wet spaghetti noodle because it will probably work better. Lastly you turn your twisting power into arm speed and turn your hand into a whip. When all that power meets the volleyball it goes DOWN!

So what does any of that have to do with the golf swing? Let’s start at the top of the backswing. As you start to come down into the ball the first thing you should do is squat. You are creating a ground reaction force by pushing your feet down into the ground. The only difference between golf and volleyball is the jump part. Actually if you look at some of the longest hitters on tour, some are actually off the ground at impact.

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Then...just like with volleyball you turn all the vertical power into twisting power with your shoulders. Lastly, use your hands like a whip and crush that little white ball as far as you possibly can.

Now the most important part. How do you incorporate plyometric training into your workouts to build a powerful golf swing? It’s really simple. Just start jumping. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can do jumping jacks, jump rope, jump in place, anything that has jump in front of it, you can do (I feel like I just gave you a version of Forrest Gump talking about shrimp). The biggest disclaimer is you have to be sure you don’t have any pain. If you have any pain with jumping, you have to stop. You can safely perform plyometrics once a week and you will definitely start to notice some more pop in your golf swing.

If you have any questions please contact me here at OrthoCore Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy your new, more powerful, golf swing this season!

How I Used Dry Needling to Fix My Neck Pain

Unfortunately...even I get neck pain. I know what you’re thinking. That would be like Superman getting a head cold. It’s not supposed to happen. Well, I’m sure that even Superman is subject to the occasional sinus infection. But, luckily for me, I have access to excellent treatment and know what to do when my neck goes on the fritz. Let me show you how I use dry needling to fix my neck pain.

I’ve dealt with neck pain off and on for a majority of my life. When I was younger I would get chiropractic adjustments to help. Nothing against what a chiropractor does, but I have not needed a single adjustment since being introduced to dry needling in 2010. I was at a conference and my neck went out one morning. To anyone reading this that has had neck pain in the past you know exactly what I’m talking about. I could not turn my head at all to the right and when I did try the pain would shoot down to my shoulder blade and up into the back of my skull. It was horrible. Oddly enough I had met someone at this conference that was certified in dry needling and also giving a talk on the technique and how it can help with all types of pain and restrictions. When he saw how much pain I was in at breakfast he offered to treat me. Now, truth be told, I am not a fan of needles at all (I know, ironic). I was willing to put my fears aside due to the intense pain in my neck and give dry needling a try. Thank god I did, because within 15 minutes I had almost 100% motion back, and no pain. I was hooked, and within a couple of months I was certified myself to help others quickly recover from pains and strains.

Fast forward to last week. I woke up, stretched my arms up like I do every morning and BANG! Searing neck pain. My first thought was, WTH, am I that old? My second thought was, yes. My third though was, I need to get to work and have someone dry needle this so I can function and help my patients.

When I got to work I had similar symptoms to 2010. No neck rotation to the right, getting pain from my shoulder to my neck, and also getting some symptoms down my arm. Even though she was super busy, Kristen agreed to help me (did she really have a choice?). After a dry needling treatment to my C7 and upper trap I was 90% better. The pain was still there slightly and my motion was improved enough to where I could work without any restriction. I then did some exercises to open up my cervical facet joints to take care of that last 10% of my recovery.

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The moral of the story is, we’re all older than we think we are. Okay not really. The moral is that if you are dealing with pain you don’t have to. Think about giving dry needling a try, even if you are skeptical or afraid of needles. You will be pleasantly surprised by how effective it is and how much better you feel after just one treatment.

Interesting in dry needling? Call and make an appointment here at OrthoCore Physical Therapy to see how it can help YOU!



How to Increase Hip Mobility for Golf

The PGA season has begun and, if you’re anything like me, those golf juices are flowing! It has been at least two months since I have swung a golf club (thanks polar vortex). The off season is great for recovery but it’s also a great excuse to get lazy with your fitness program. It’s very easy to get stiff over the colder months because we don’t move as much. This stiffness can rob your golf swing of consistency and power. The biggest area of your body that is responsible for power in your golf swing is your hips. So let’s get those joints moving and get this season rolling!

When you swing a golf club your hips/pelvis to internally and externally rotate about 60 degrees in each direction. As a golfer, when you go to the top of your backswing you need internal rotation of your trail hip, and external rotation of your lead hip. In your downswing you reverse those movements. A restriction in either hip, in either movement, can lead to swing faults. No matter what the fault may be, it will definitely lead to inconsistencies in your golf swing.

Another problem with poor hip mobility is a guaranteed loss of power and distance. If you want to be able to hit the ball a far way you have to be able to spin fast. When we start our downswing we actually push down into the ground with our feet. The earth is just a little bit larger and stronger than us so it pushes back and creates what is called ground reaction force (hello physics!). Now before I lose you in all my golf swing dork talk let me simplify things. For 99% of the world, our legs are the strongest part of our body (not this guy, do you even leg day bro?).

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When we push into the ground, all that energy that is created gets pushed up the legs towards our abdominals. The pelvis turns that energy into torque. The more torque that is created, the faster we spin, and the harder we hit the ball. If we have a restriction in how much our hips and pelvis can twist we can’t create as much torque and we don’t hit the ball as far as we possibly can. Make sense?

Now that I have completely confused you with talk of physics, torque, power, blah, blah, blah let me just tell you what to do about it. Here is my favorite hip mobility exercise for golf. You can perform this stretch multiple times a day. Just be careful if you have any pain in your hips and/or in your knees. If you are consistent with performing this stretch, your mobility will increase, and you will be hitting that ball farther down the fairways before you know it.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us here at OrthoCore. Enjoy the last month of the off season and use it to get your body ready for the upcoming season.



Retiring From Powerlifting By Adam Davis (OR: How I learned to Stop Lifting Heavy and Love the Lunge)

I’ve rewritten this blog multiple times now. Originally I was just going to talk about lunges. A client of mine who’s a former trainer herself sent me an article regarding the common mistakes when both practicing and coaching lunges. This article upset me because it challenged how I’ve been coaching this movement for 6 years professionally. It was written by one of our favorite professionals in the industry to boot (Dr. John Rusin). I was forced to open my mind and accept new information. And for the first time since joining the OrthoCore Physical Therapy team, I told my clients I was teaching something wrong (well more like less efficient, we’ll say).

Now where am I going with all of this? Well first off, as a coach I have a policy that I never teach something that I don’t practice on my own, unless a client really needs something unique in their programming. I begrudgingly started to practice these new lunges. I’ve had a long love hate relationship with lunges since the first day I worked out my legs. I know their importance and the importance of unilateral work in general. But lunges suck. Or rather I sucked at lunges. So I avoided doing them for a long time during my powerlifting career. I wanted to focus on competition lifts like squats and deadlifts. Those were fun, short, and heavy sets that felt impressive. Lunges were long, grueling, and boring exercises that burned and used light weight. Not something a 23 year old powerlifter was excited to do.

Well now I’m 30 and have 3 notable prior sports injuries, arthritis of varying degrees in many joints, and a stability issue in my right hip. That issue is likely from years of ignoring lunges I’d wager. Well upon practicing these new lunges that better utilize the mechanics of the hip, I became more aware of this instability, as well as generally had better feedback from it. I had more control than ever before in this exercise when working on that right leg, and despite the muscles being stronger, it felt harder. My rotator cuff was working in ways it wasn’t before (yes your hips have a rotator cuff too).

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This newfound sensation with an old exercise blew my mind. How had I not come across this information on how to perform lunges in 6 years of training and 5 years of competitive lifting? My lower body program shifted to primarily focus on lunges first, and I began to go from heavy weight to lighter weight/higher reps. Now I perform them with unevenly loaded dumbbells to both challenge stability and engage the glutes even more than the original modification did. Compound movements like squats and deadlifts became ancillary lifts in my routine.

Ok so let’s get to the real point here. Ever since my shoulder injury 4 years ago, I’ve been out of the competitive lifting scene. It’s been somewhat of a rough journey as I was just months away from my first major competition (everything I had done before were unofficial amatuer meets that were a bit more loosely regulated). That really messed with me. I went through ups and downs trying to get back to the numbers I used to put up before that injury, never quite making it in any of the competition lifts. I even went through a period of depression because of it and gained a lot of weight.

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The last 2 or so years I’ve been getting back into consistent training and leaned out to a nice healthy level again. But I’ve still always been training for strength overall. So “going heavy” was my priority in a lot of lifts, even if I was sure to do things like care for my shoulder health and isolate where needed. I even got my bench press up to 235 lbs after rehabbing my left shoulder from an impingement! But even though I’m mechanically stronger than I used to be in my powerlifting days (I move weight more efficiently), the fact that the actual amount of weight I was lifting was so much lower continued to nag at me. That was until the last few months.

I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I will never compete again, at least not in any ranked league, and even if I compete in an amateur meet again I know I will be far outclassed. I had instead been focusing on my clients’ programs, and exploring new avenues like yoga. I specialize in corrective exercise and movement after all, why not broaden my own training to include more avenues regarding it? And although I was initially hesitant to admit there was information that contradicted what I coached, these lunges were my final step to finding where I really need to be training wise for my body at my age.

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Let’s wrap this up as I tend to ramble when talking about my own experiences. Focusing on these lunges first basically meant a lot of my strength and energy would be sapped for the big lifts. So I did what powerlifters swear never to do. I lifted lighter weight. My squats were endurance and mobility focused sets of 10-15 reps. My deadlifts stayed at low rep sets of 3-5 (I personally believe the conventional deadlift is risky for high reps), but the weight I used was relegated to weight that was normally not a 3-5 rep max. I also started to superset multiple types of deadlifts, so it was more like one set of 6-10 when combined, again helping my muscular endurance more than my usual training used to.

And you know what? I’m seeing tons of progress. My hip feels stronger every week. I’m still adding weight to my lifts even if I use less weight overall compared to even a couple of years ago, nevermind my powerlifting days. My shoulder mobility is more consistent, and my core imbalance is improving faster. To top it off, despite lifting so much lighter, I have more muscle mass on my body now than ever before, which helps keep my metabolism well regulated so I stay leaner easier, and cushions my poor arthritic joints.

So after 4 years of frustratingly chasing the dragon of reaching my former glory days. I’ve finally accepted that I’m not living those days anymore. I’ve retired from heavy weight you could say. I still challenge myself, but in ways that are more appropriate for my body given my history and needs. And you know what? I’m happy with my programming, performance, and body for the first time in nearly 5 years. The new year just started, so I guess this is my “new me”. Perhaps something as simple as reexamining your training programming needs is all you need for a “new you” as well. If you’d like to try and don’t know where to start you can always contact me. Otherwise I wish you all luck in your endeavours in health and wellness in this new year. And remember, it’s ok to be a different kind of athlete than you were last year.

~Adam