By: Adam Swanson, CPT,TPI GFI The great thing about the game of golf is it allows us to play into our later years of life, and is a game for all ages and all athletic abilities. One of the greatest rewards of my job is when a client comes in and says he's playing without pain or finally hitting the ball farther because they can “move a lot better”. I Pride myself on practicing what I preach in the gym, and on the golf course. It helped me compete in the RE/MAX World Long Drive competitions, hold a near scratch handicap, and helps build trust between the client and myself. One of the things I do to help improve the client’s golf game at Golfstretch Therapies is to provide and educate the athlete with adequate exercises and stretches to improve their mobility and stability. History has shown previous thoughts on exercise routines for sports performance in athletes have mainly been based on the gradual increase in weight and muscle mass. For more functional sports with speed and rotation this proves not to be true. Golf is a game of hinges and levers, of mobility, stability, and fast twitch muscles. The style of work out must match the style of sport that you are training for. Studies have shown more benefits to functional training (i.e.: Cable machine wood chops, TRX suspension straps) vs. traditional training (Bench Press, Leg press machine) because you are working the muscles in all planes of motion, and involving the core, rather than working one plane of motion. Many pieces of traditional equipment require you to lye down on a bench or to be sitting up, and last time I checked we don’t play golf lying down are sitting up, right? The first time I meet with someone I run them through a rigorous screening process looking at their quality of movement. No matter how physically active someone is chances are we all have some sort of restriction limiting our potential to move properly. If there are kinks in the kinetic chain this cannot only limit our movement but end up leading to injury somewhere down the road. By going through a proper evaluation by a professional we cannot only determine where you can improve your mobility or stability but greatly decrease your chances of injury. Every joint in the human body works in a perfect chain starting with stability of the foot, mobility of the ankle, stability of the knee, mobility of the hips, stability of the lumbar spine, mobility of the thoracic spine, stability of the scapula, mobility of the shoulder, stability of the elbow, and ending with mobility of the wrist. That being said, the three areas that we get rotation from in the golf swing comes from the ankle, hips, and thoracic spine. These three areas are meant to be mobile but on most people we see are very tight. One of the most common problems that people mention during their screening process is lower back pain. Unfortunately this is the most common problem in golf, and if you think taking a pill will make it go away, you’re only putting a Band-Aid on the problem. Not to take away from serious conditions like (Arthritis, Sciatica, Disc Herniation or a Tumor) this is often caused from a lack of mobility in the thoracic spine and hips and the body trying to generate rotation from the lumbar spine, that’s not meant to rotate more than a few degrees, and is often unstable. That’s why it is important to seek out a qualified medical and fitness professional before getting into an exercise and stretching regimen, and have them run you through a thorough examination. Something as simple as a foam roller, stability disc or pad, and a foam rolling and stretching routine can help get you out of pain, increase flexibility and mobility, improve stability, and keep you playing for many more years than you ever thought you would play.