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Wednesday's with WVPT
Author: Ryan Hubbard (WVPT)
May 24th 2017 - Wrist/Forearm Health and the Golf Game
 
As I watched the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass last weekend (through my physical therapist lense of course) I couldn’t help but notice some interesting wrist/elbow motions varying between golfers with low irons and wedges on par 3’s.  More specifically one of the more famous holes in golf: the par 3 17th.  137 yards to the island green with 3.22 scoring average and 69 balls in the water over the course of the tournament.  Not to mention over 100,000 balls in water per year.  I’m already intimidated.  Another hole that comes to mind is the par 3 12th at Augusta National in Amen Corner.  There many factors that influence these tee shots for the pros on these holes including the wind, which then forces different ball flights and shot shapes.  This further affects how the wrist hinges and any dysfunction in the area can cause inaccuracy.  That’s why I thought wrist and elbow health would be a great topic for this week’s “Wednesday’s with Willem Verweij”.
 
The wrist and elbow are the second and third most common sites for injury for both professionals and amateurs.  Professionals are more likely to get injured in their upper extremities due to over practice.  Amateurs are more likely due to hitting the ground (we’ve all done it) or altered gripping.  I am going to speak of the wrist and elbow in the same light for the rest of the article because they have such a close relationship anatomically.  Most of the muscles that flex (bend forward) your wrist and fingers originate from the inside of your elbow, this is the location where we see “golfer’s elbow”.  Conversely the muscles that extend (bend back) your wrist and fingers originate on the outside of the elbow and irritation of this area is known as “tennis elbow”.  Now these injuries are in no way mutually exclusive to the sports they are named after.  They are very similar in that they are acutely a “tendonitis” or a more chronic “tendonosis”.  The tendon is tissue that connects a muscle to the bone and the mechanism that the muscles use to ultimately move our bones.  A tendonitis is essentially inflamed tendon tissue due to overuse of the muscles and repetitive force of the tendon on the bone.  This is something that is commonly seen outside of the realm of sports with carpenters, electricians, and other professions requiring a lot of hand use. Although this is a common injury, the good news is that it is very treatable with manual therapy and exercise.golfer_elbow.jpg
 
 
The wrist and elbow are not only important to consider because they can be susceptible to injury, but they require an extensive range of motion to set the club at the end of the backswing.  The wrists naturally hinge (or cock) which requires movement into extension and radial deviation. 
 
Radial-and-Ulnar-Deviation.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Uncocking (ulnar deviation) of the wrists in the downswing at right moment is also very important as this is where the force from your body transfers to the ball.  If the wrists are unable to release towards this position then other body parts have to compensate, which can affect squaring the clubface and ball striking inconsistency.
 
Here are some exercises for your wrists and elbows that you can add to your pre-round warm up or before your resistance training program:
image_034148.jpg
 
 
  1. Radial deviation with or without weight
 
-Hold a small free weight or just use the weight of your hand,
-Rest your forearm on a table and bend your wrist up and down with your palm facing towards the side as shown.
 
 
 
  1. Wrist flexion and extension stretching
image_042959.jpg
-Keeping your elbow straight, use your unaffected hand to bend the affected wrist downward as shown. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, 3 times.
-Still keeping your elbow straight, use your unaffected hand to bend the wrist upward as shown. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, 3 times.
-Repeat on the other side
 
 
  1. Motorcycle Drill: http://www.mytpi.com/exercises#motorcycle_drill
 
I like this drill to assist with proper wrist position in the downswing in order to square the clubface properly.
 
If you have any questions on swing mechanics I encourage you to contact your local PGA professional.  They are a great resource and can take your game to the next level.  If you have any questions on these exercises or any of my other articles, please contact us at (603)335-4700 or email me directly at ryan@wvphysicaltherapy.com
 
 

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