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X-Factor Linked to Back Pain

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The BBC gave a synopsis of a recent report from a medical journal calling the condition that powerful swings exert on the back, repetitive traumatic discopathy. It uses the term X-factor, I wonder how many are going to recall Jim McLean's book, it's probably too small in the rear view mirror to be a blip now. It's all Captain Obvious to us that swing speeds have been trending up and the BBC quotes one of the doctors saying it's still a theory although they're noticing an uptick. All the usual stuff you hear about fitness for injury prevention follows. Golf is still nowhere near as contact as basketball (or similar) as anyone who has ever played a pickup game lately can attest to. I wish I had a high swing speed "problem", going to guess I don't swing hard enough to get into this danger zone, still reading this makes me less likely to delay my next stretching routine.

 

 

_105469911_hi002834899.jpg

Going for a supercharged swing could play havoc with your back, according to spine surgeons.

 

 

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Interesting that Snead, Daly, Cabrera, Bubba,Nicklaus, Palmer didn't run into this problem.

I think it frequency/volumne as much anything else.  The old school guys quit practicing when they got the result they wanted.  Seems a lot of these  guys today try to out-practice one another . And out-gym.  

When it comes down to just outplaying them.  The names I listed above, non of them were known for beating balls ad nauseum and working out in the gym.

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Shocker, right? 😀

I'm obviously biased that I prefer more of a pivot that has some freedom with the lower body but I'll play devil's advocate a bit. This article is ok, they really only focus on Tiger and assume the back pain is due to the swing. Would be better to look at a much larger number of players and divide them into "restrictive pivots" and "unrestrictive pivots" and see if there is any correlation. I think any kind of swing is going to put strain on the back, especially if you do it thousands and thousands of times at high speeds.

Couple things I want to point out. Regardless of pivot style, the hips and shoulders don't turn the same amount on the backswing but it's generally not something you have to think about, just the way we're built. There is also an x-factor stretch that happens in transition, again not something you can conscious "do".

Quote

Big swing

An X-factor golf swing tries to get maximum rotation of the player's shoulders relative to their hips at the top of the backswing.

This big rotation creates wound-up potential energy - the X-factor - but Dr Corey Walker, Dr Juan Uribe and Dr Randall Porter, from Barrow, say it may come at a cost, twisting the lumbar spine.

X-factor at top of back swingImage copyrightBARROW

The spinal surgeons have been studying how the golf swing of present-day professionals, including Tiger Woods, differs from those of golf veterans, such as Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan.

They say players' physiques and techniques have changed significantly over recent decades.

Modern players are more muscular and have more powerful downswings and this can put increased force on the spinal disc and facet joints, they believe.

And over time, it can result in a damaging process that the authors call "repetitive traumatic discopathy" (RTD).

Wear and tear

But it's not just the backswing that might injure the lower spine.

During an explosive downswing, lateral flexion can result in a 'crunch" of the side of the spine, putting strain on the disc and facet joints on one side of the spine, they say.

Down swing crunchImage copyrightBARROW

Dr Walker said: "We believe Tiger Woods's experience with spinal disease highlights a real and under-recognised issue amongst modern era golfers.

"Tiger was using the mechanics of the modern day swing and that places a tremendous amount of strain on the back.

"It's still a theory but we are starting to see the late stages of this in some of our patients.

"We are seeing younger and younger elite level golfers with degeneration in their lower back."

He said any golfer, elite or not, who experienced pain should seek expert help.

Woods had fusion surgery on his lower spine to get back to fitness. He also did a lot of physiotherapy and strengthening exercises in the gym.

_105469911_hi002834899.jpg

Going for a supercharged swing could play havoc with your back, according to spine surgeons.

 

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20 minutes ago, 3jacker said:

Interesting that Snead, Daly, Cabrera, Bubba,Nicklaus, Palmer didn't run into this problem.

None of those guys practice(d) as much as most modern guys.

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38 minutes ago, 3jacker said:

Palmer didn't run into this problem.

Not to get into the younger generation and their fallbacks...but the more accurate statement here is probably; ‘They didn’t complain about this problem.’

Some will know what I’m getting at but I’ll leave it at that...

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Golf swings can cause back pain? I'll call Ripley's.

I would guess that we'll see more golfers that have back issues as golfers try to get swing harder and get every ounce of distance out of their bodies.

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Is there any correlation between how the golfer rides up on their rear toe during their swing, and back issues?

Edited by Patch

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My experience with pain in the lower back has been attributed to several factors,
Some are golf related which I feel was due to spine angle through rotation.
I would have to change the angle periodically due to soreness and played through the pain many days.

After a painful round, I would apply ice and able to play the next day without any inflammation.

I never had the swing speeds which many of the better players and pros, but back soreness has never
had any influence on ever having thoughts of quitting.

I agree, many of the older pros complained of pain.
The just stopped playing and gave their body a rest and had medical treatment when necessary.
We probably do not hear about chiropractors and massage treatment on hand for players today before and after rounds.

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I don't remember the book, but I do remember the article in Golf Digest. As I recall, the main point of the idea was to maximize the differential between the shoulder and hip turn. What could go wrong there, right? How could that possibly lead to back issues?

I think mvmac has a great point about having a little more freedom in the lower body. I've been re-reading Harvey Penick's Little Red Book. He is of the "old school" in that he advocates allowing the left heel to come off the ground "if it wants to". Back in the day I have no idea if my left heel came up or not. I simply paid no attention to it. 

Nowadays, at 66 years old and far less flexible than I used to be, I do pay attention to it! 

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16 hours ago, DeadMan said:

Golf swings can cause back pain? I'll call Ripley's.

I would guess that we'll see more golfers that have back issues as golfers try to get swing harder and get every ounce of distance out of their bodies.

I agree with this. It's pretty similar to how Tommy John surgery is on the rise in baseball. We're getting to the limit of what the human body is capable of.

Plus, it's a repetition thing as others have mentioned. You do something as stressful on the body as the golf swing is and you will wear your body down. Whether or not something gets damaged or breaks depends on the individual. Some people are just more durable than others.

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On 2/5/2019 at 5:33 PM, boogielicious said:
nicklaus-newsl.jpg

Jack Nicklaus spoke up about an experimental treatment he underwent in Germany in an effort to soothe his lifelong back pain.

 

Yeah, NOW his back hurts.  Hell it does catch up with anyone, golf or not.

And I don't buy that modern golfers are swing any harder than he did.  I'd love to see what a 23-y/o Nicklaus could do with modern equipment.

Edited by 3jacker

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On 2/5/2019 at 4:55 PM, mvmac said:

Would be better to look at a much larger number of players and divide them into "restrictive pivots" and "unrestrictive pivots" and see if there is any correlation. I think any kind of swing is going to put strain on the back, especially if you do it thousands and thousands of times at high speeds.

Couple things I want to point out. Regardless of pivot style, the hips and shoulders don't turn the same amount on the backswing but it's generally not something you have to think about, just the way we're built. There is also an x-factor stretch that happens in transition, again not something you can conscious "do".

_105469911_hi002834899.jpg

Going for a supercharged swing could play havoc with your back, according to spine surgeons.

 

But I think you can reduce the differential in turn amount between the two by lifting left heel (for righ handed golfers) at A4 right? I believe doing so (unrestrictive pivot, as you mentioned) reduces back strain.   

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2 hours ago, 3jacker said:

I'd love to see what a 23-y/o Nicklaus could do with modern equipment.

He'd be a moderately long hitter. DJ, C. Champ would be out of his range.

Edited by Vinsk

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On 2/8/2019 at 4:03 PM, 3jacker said:

Yeah, NOW his back hurts.  Hell it does catch up with anyone, golf or not.

And I don't buy that modern golfers are swing any harder than he did.  I'd love to see what a 23-y/o Nicklaus could do with modern equipment.

 

On 2/8/2019 at 6:57 PM, Vinsk said:

He'd be a moderately long hitter. DJ, C. Champ would be out of his range.

 

On 2/15/2019 at 11:36 AM, 3jacker said:

Nah, not at all. DJ ain't that big a deal. Champ - yes.

I love this nonsense! A "moderately long" hitter? You have to be kidding me! 

I'll be back, but it's time to sign off now!

Edited by Buckeyebowman

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15 minutes ago, Buckeyebowman said:

I love this nonsense! A "moderately long" hitter? You have to be kidding me! 

It’s not nonsense at all. DJ hit Nicklaus’ driver without any practice time 290yds. Jack averaged 276yds with that driver. To think Jack would hit DJ’s driver at 23 any further than DJ is asinine. DJ, Champ, Bubba are all longer hitters than Jack ever was regardless of equipment. DJ also hit Jacks one iron farther than Jack as well. Just facts. Sorry...know it. Live it. Love it.

usatsi_10897146.jpg?w=640

Before Dustin Johnson hops on a plane and jets up to TPC Boston for this week’s Dell Technologies...

 

Edited by Vinsk

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On 2/6/2019 at 12:22 AM, Patch said:

Is there any correlation between how the golfer rides up on their rear toe during their swing, and back issues?

spine compression.
when the lower body goes up and upper body goes down.
it's why Tiger crushed a disc with the Foley experiment. (stacking left side)

It's why you want a free movement that don't compress as much.
 

 

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