Why Flexibility and Mobility is Critical in Golf and Other Activities

You either are the problem or know someone who is…

We all know the importance of exercise and physical activity along with its endless health benefits, but what if your body has hidden impairments that will lie dormant until you twist or bend the wrong way, and cause a sudden and severe injury? What if it’s an injury that turns out to be so painful, it brings you to your knees in tears?

Do you even know if your body is currently in a state of prime performance with minimal chance of becoming injured? Or have you just been spending years carrying out unhealthy movement patterns day after day, living in denial that you need to improve?

The truth is that so many of us ignore the little aches, pains and discomforts we feel during physical activity. We like to deny there’s a problem so we can avoid having to make an effort, living in hope that things will improve with time and just “go away”. But for most of us, this is a false sense of hope.

By not addressing the physical issues you experience on an ongoing basis, you are allowing them to get worse. The aches and pains will continue to occur over and over again until they lead to an injury severe enough to land you in the emergency room.

We all move, therefore we are all affected

Every day we perform movement sequences that allow us to carry out even the simplest of activities. Throughout our lives, these movement patterns become unconscious actions both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, a prolonged lack of awareness at the mind-body connection level can sometimes cause us to develop poor postural habits and movement pattern deficits that worsen with time.

To add insult to injury, it’s easy to create a false sense of physical judgement as these issues manifest themselves over a period of years. People often believe they can fix the problem and push the envelope even further by doing more physically demanding activities, such as weight lifting, playing golf, playing tennis, running, etc.

Therefore, as great as physical activity might be, it can have an equally bad effect on your body if you don’t adequately prepare yourself and take preventative measures. This is where flexibility and mobility come into the picture, as both can make a huge difference in a person’s physical abilities.

The importance of flexibility and mobility, and how they are different

People often use the terms “flexibility” and “mobility” interchangeably, assuming that if you stretch enough, you’ll be limber and ready to move. But it’s not that simple. Flexibility is the ability of your muscles to temporarily lengthen, and mobility is how a joint moves through its full and active range of motion.

To put it into perspective, think of mobility as the outcome of a mathematical equation, requiring the addition of different parts to formulate the correct answer. Mobility follows the same principle that 2+2+2=6 will always equal 6. To solve the mobility equation, you must have these three components:

Flexibility + Motor Control + Strength = MOBILITY

With flexibility, motor control, and strength, you get good mobility. And good mobility leads to joint health, a healthy range of motion, improved performance, and injury prevention.

How flexibility and mobility affect the golf swing

Because I specialize in treating golfers, it’s important for my patients to understand how flexibility and mobility affect the golf swing.

Golf is a physically demanding sport. Players often experience injury from over exerting themselves, which can have long-term effects on their ability to play if not treated properly. But prevention is the best medicine, and there are certain physical components a golfer can work on to prevent injury while optimizing performance.

One of these components, and arguably one of the most important, is mobility. As stated above, flexibility and mobility are not the same, and although this concept is significantly misunderstood, without flexibility, you can’t have optimal mobility. To watch me explain the difference in greater detail, click here.

Every experienced golfer knows that a golf swing requires a large range of motion and joint rotation. Think about it—during the downswing, you transfer power from your pelvis, to your trunk, to your arms, to your club, and finally to the golf ball. This is referred to as kinematic sequencing.

Executing optimal precision and accuracy through each phase of this sequence requires adaptive input from both the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. If one of these systems fails to make the connection, then again, true mobility will not be executed with every movement pattern you perform.

This means that if any variable is missing from the mobility equation, you’re putting your body at risk. Even doing something as simple as reaching up into the spice cabinet will contribute to a chronic development of movement dysfunction. But at least in the spice cabinet scenario, an injury would take a long period of time to develop. In the case of a golf swing, as repetitive and physically taxing as it is, it won’t take long to experience major problems and injuries.

How physical therapy for golf can help

Having a quality physical therapist that you can trust and rely on is so important when considering all things physical, especially within the golfing community. Physical therapy is one of the most underutilized services in the healthcare profession, and as a practitioner myself, I feel an urgency and necessity to educate our communities on what it is that PT’s actually do.

For those who are suffering but don’t know where to turn, or for those who were unable to achieve success through therapy in the past, don’t give up. Find practitioners who actually care about your health and recovery.

If you want to permanently eliminate pain through a non-surgical approach, master athletic performance, and prevent injury, or if you just want to live an overall healthy lifestyle, come visit me, Dr. Angelica Napolitano, at Optimal Physical Therapy and Wellness, LLC located in Jupiter, FL.

I am a TPI Certified Doctor of Physical Therapy with a specialty in golf-specific rehab and fitness. I am committed to serving individuals who want to achieve, maintain and sustain their desired goals through permanent physical and lifestyle transformations without the need for medications or surgery. Book an appointment online or contact me today for a complimentary consultation at (561) 351-1702.