Injuries and Your Swing
I was so pleased to see Paula Creamer win the 2010 U.S. Women's Open a few weeks ago
I know how much work she had to put in to get past the pain of surgery and rehab.
Early in 1984, 8 years after my back injury, I set about rebuilding my golf swing. What I learned during that period was so valuable I pass it along to any client who comes to me after suffering any type of injury. Namely, long after you are healed from an injury, your brain must be convinced there is no pain.
What is rarely addressed is the mental impact an injury long after it has healed, no matter how minor.
My suggestions, mundane as they may seem, are both real and realistic. I recommend you give them some consideration if a struggling with the aftermath of an injury, no matter how slight.
FIRST: Do not rush out to the golf course after you have been cleared to play.
SECOND: Acknowledge the injury.
The injury may be healed but your brain needs to be convinced.
The pain you underwent when you suffered the injury is permanently recorded in your brain. You need to acknowledge that fact even though you are fully recovered. Your brain is conditioned to anticipate and expect the pain.
THIRD: Develop a plan.
Give yourself, depending on the injury, two to three weeks to work on your golf swing. If recovering from surgery, it is going to obviously take longer.
FOURTH: Try to end your day at a driving range with a small basket of balls, (35-40 balls), every day or at least every other day.
Stay on a mat and use the rubber tees. If you have to be in the grass, USE A TEE! Your goal is to feel the motion through impact.
Let's say your injury is on your left or lead side, perhaps your shoulder.
You want to stay loose and free as you make half swings off a tee. Again, you are only trying to make solid contact, NOT hit the golf ball somewhere. Your real mission is to 'feel' your way through where the pain 'was', as you convenience your brain that, in fact, there really is no pain.
Let the weight of your arms carry the club through impact and on into the follow through. Do not try to stop the momentum but rather allow gravity and centrifugal force to bring them to a stop.
Where ever your pain area was, work at relaxing and letting your system 'feel' its way through that area. Yes, there may be tenderness. However, the pain should be nothing like you imagined so long as you relax and flow through this little swing motion, continuing to build your confidence.
The brain needs the feedback of 'no pain'. If there is pain beyond the normal stiffness of resuming golf swing motion activity, either you are swinging too hard, griping the golf club too tight or your injury may not be fully healed.
Stick with this routine. After several trips to the range start to work up to a full swing a little at a time. Maintain that free and flowing swing motion you have been using. You should find it very easy to do.
Stay focused on what your goal is. It will prevent you from becoming lazy with your swing. Reinforce what it is you're doing and why you are doing it each time you go to the range. Again, your brain needs this feedback.
One of the side benefits of this practice routine is that you will find you have been expending far too much energy swinging the golf club. As you build your confidence back, you are going to find you are swinging with about half the energy you used before the injury, actually hitting the ball more solidly, further and more accurately!
Another benefit is you may wind up enjoying practice after all. As you already know, it IS the path to better game of golf.
About the Author
Steve Riggs is a retired golf teaching professional of over 30 years working with countless clients in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Now retired, Steve is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and regular contriubtor to Par Excellence Magazine, New England Golf Monthly magazine and mynegm.com. Steve is the host/producer of a weekly Radio/Internet golf program, THE myNEGM LESSON TEE which airs Wednesdays 10:05-11am ET. Listen live at WNRI 1380 AM radio or online at: mynegm.com and www.wnri.com . The show is followed around the country and Canada in it's second year on air.
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