You can tell by the flow of PGA golfers into the Player Performance trailers this week that it is the US Open. Shinnecock is playing tough! The rough is higher and thicker than any other event on the PGA Tour. The greens are demanding precision approach shots to give yourself a chance at making putts. What makes the sports medicine staff busy at this event is the physical challenge of the rough at a US Open. Estimated at 4.5 inches but known to be a bit longer and thicker it presents a physical demand that the PGA golfer may not be prepared for or able to handle. Golfers have to swing harder to overcome the resistance of the rough. Additionally as the club head speed increases the golfer then has to handle the abrupt deceleration of the club head as it enters the thick rough. Such a demand is often not tolerated by the body!
The sports medicine staff of chiropractors and physical therapists on the Performance trailers have to up their game due to the number and intensity of injuries. The areas of the body suffering the greatest stress are the wrists, forearms, shoulders and neck. PGA players spend Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday hitting numerous shots out of the rough to master their capability for scoring. Increasing the number of shots they hit against additional resistance from the rough is a recipe for injury. Injuries to these very significant areas of the body must be controlled and alleviated or performance will suffer. Greens that are demanding require wrist and forearm muscles that are relaxed and responsive to cerebral cues (see my blog on putting). Precision shot making from the fairways demand the shoulder and neck areas to be relaxed, mobile and activated for efficient sequencing.
One objective of the sports medicine staff is to convince the PGA golfer to emphasize quality and limit the number of shots practiced from the rough. Regarding treatment advanced soft tissue techniques are used on a frequency of twice per day. Muscle activation of agonists and/or antagonists is significant to maintain and improve proper muscle sequencing. Improving joint alignment and mobility in the neck and mid back is equally important. The PGA golfer has to be ready and confident in their physical capabilities by their Thursday tee time. It is a PGA major and optimal performance is the goal. Our responsibility is to make sure that will happen so that we all have a great week!