Nearly all of us out there are active folks. Ever notice excessive soreness or tightness in the low back, hips or neck after a regular day of golf, Ultimate or soccer? Have you ever noticed PAIN during or after activity? I know most of us have and yes, we aren't as young as we used to be but that's just an excuse and doesn't need to be the case on a daily basis.
The folks over at the TPI (Titleist Pro Institute) recently brought to my attention something I already knew but had slipped my mind. They were so kind to point out mobility of a player's joints can play a big part in their swing, effecting ball-striking efficiency. The golf swing, for example, requires movement of the hip, low back and thoracic spine (to name a few) in numerous directions, simultaneously, and when mobility is lost in one, it is pulled from another.
The body is designed to alternate mobile joints with stable joint. Whats this supposed to mean? Well as you look at the body in terms of "joints" you will see a pattern of alternating types of mobility. A mobile joint would be one that can and does move in multiple planes/directions freely. A stable joint would be one that moves in one plane primarily, they all move in multiple planes but in a stable joint the motion is disproportionately in one direction. Mobile joint examples would be the shoulder and the hip. They are easily moved in all three anatomical planes with little effort, when healthy. Stable joints would be best described by the elbow and knee. These joints primarily flex and extend in the sagittal plane (front to back) with little rotation or side to side movement.
Ok, so why the anatomy lesson? That's easy!! Based on the above model, the golf swing involves everything from the arch of the foot all the way to the wrist. With a loss of joint motion in one area, specifically a mobile joint, the mobility requirements are transferred to the joint above and below. A good example is mobility restriction in the hip that requires an increased mobility requirement from the lumbar spine and knee. Although this may not cause immediate pain or discomfort, if done long enough the system will fail and at this point, pain is introduced.
Why is this important? A couple reasons: 1. Painful activities aren't very fun. 2. You don't play as good when you're in pain. 3. Pain causes altered stabilization patterns that can affect the stability of the system long term. I could go on..... The point is that proper flexibility and mobility of your joints is imperative for long-term enjoyment of ANY activity.
How do I get fixed? The "old-school" approach to back pain was simply strengthening the abs or "core" muscles. That's good and all but if your problem is mobility (lack of) what good does it do to strengthen? If there's a lack of mobility in a joint it needs mobilization. Strengthening only applies to joint instability, which may apply to the low back that's compensating for an immobile pelvis or thoracic spine. Mobilization (chiropractic care) is what is needed for an immobile joint. But before that, proper screening and assessment are required to isolate the primary causes of your pain and dysfunction. Without a proper diagnosis, we are just shooting from the hip hoping what we are doing fixes the problem.