By Peter Hopley and Jon Kadin
Other than being among golf's greatest players Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Tom Watson have in common are that they have a bionic hip. Tom Watson had his replacement in October 2008 on the left; Greg Norman had his left hip replacement re-done in 1999. And currently golf's greatest player had his left hip replaced in 1999. The market for hip replacement parts is so strong that Stryker, a surgical parts supplier for Nicklaus' hip has since been hired as a spokesperson for the company. So the biggest question I am asked as a golf physiotherapist is that if I get my hip replacement surgery can I golf again? And if I can how soon after surgery can I golf?
A survey of the surgeons of the mayo clinic in the Rochester Minnesota found that 75% recommended golf as a sport that patients of Hip Replacements could return to post hip replacement. The reason 25% of the surgeons were not as keen for returning to golf was that they were concerned of loosening and wearing out of the replacement parts, especially if those parts were made of polyethylene bearings (rather than metal on metal). To reduce the risk of this loosening and inappropriate wearing of the joints post hip replacement patients should follow personalized strengthening program of the hip stabilizer muscles and golf specific proprioceptive (joint awareness) exercises.
Following completion of this rehabilitation players should work with a golf pro to find the most efficient and healthy swing to ease stress on the hip. When returning to play a few tips would include wearing spikeless shoes and to open up your stance to reduce the rotational stress on the hip. The Hip Society of the US reported that a survey of its surgeons reported that none of the surgeons prohibited patients from golfing but 7 out of 10 advised that players use a cart for their patients when returning to golf to start with practicing their “Short Game” around 2 months post surgery and to get back to a full swing after 4 months.
According to USA Today, Jack Nicklaus started hitting golf balls at 8 weeks and played in a tournament at 12 weeks but even the Golden Bear cautioned that patient education is critical and that you should talk to your doctor because according to Nicklaus every Total Hip Replacement and protocol for rehabilitation and return to golf is unique to that golfer.
Proper golf posture is the key to a healthy swing. Without good golf posture players will have difficulty achieving the required positions to consistently keep the club on plane.
The golf swing seems to be symmetrical in terms of the backswing and downswing. However, one side of the body works very differently from the other through the swing and in so doing creates a unique set of imbalances in mobility and strength to the player’s body. These imbalances are what predispose many players to injury and shorter golf seasons.
There are two types of posture, static (non moving) and dynamic (through movement). Static posture is important as the golfer addresses the ball prior to each swing. This sets the body up for a smooth and balanced swing. Once a sound static posture is achieved the next step is to create an optimal dynamic postural control. This is when all the joints are kept in their optimal alignment during any given moment of the golf swing. Dynamic postural control allows the player to move efficiently and comfortably through the swing, minimizing the chance of injury and allowing the player to have better control of the club and more consistently keep it on plane.
As a Golf Physiotherapist my goal, together with the Golf Professional, is to help the player find their optimal golf posture which will protect the spine, hips, elbows, wrists and the numerous other joints which are well known to the injured golfer. We help the player reinforce the proper posture through all golf practice and exercises.
Pro Tips by Greg Redman
Golf Physiotherapist, GBC Golf Academy at Gallagher's Canyon | firstname.lastname@example.org