How to Predict and Prevent Golf Back Pain | Top Tips | Force Plates

So first we have to look at vertical force in a really simple way. And then I want to immediately relate it to injuries because this is going to be a very important thing in the future. I believe as more and more instructors start using the swing catalyst force plates and starting to understand the forces that are going through the body. So I have two different golfers up here. I’ve got Lucas Glover on the left and Kevin not on the right, both hitting drivers. Now Kevin is not known for being a long hitter, of course, but he actually generates a high amount of vertical force. You can see that in this graph here, this black bar, the darkened bar is showing the range of PGA tour averages. Swing catalyst is measured over a hundred PGA tour players, and this is the range of averages and vertical force that they’re generating.

You can see Kevin’s riding the averages, but what I want to draw your attention to is the second peak in which is also in the average. We’re going to look at in just a minute. Now I’ve got Lucas Glover Glover on the left. He generates a high amount of vertical force, but notice the secondary peak is much lower. Now let’s just kind of walk through their swings really quickly. I’m not going to get into details here, but just play their swing back. And let’s take a look and see what you see in terms of differences and really what I’m interested in. Let’s look at the peak vertical forces so we can sync both of these guys to impact. So we have a good idea of where they’re at and measure them at the exact same points in their swings. So at this point, Lucas is generating a high amount of vertical for ground force at about the average time about when the hands are pocket high and the club shaft is vertical, or excuse me, horizontal, or just a little bit above, you tend to see peak vertical forces. Now you can see about the same thing. Kevin’s already coming off that peak and coming down the slope and starting to decrease that vertical force and you’ll note how much spine tilt he has at this point. For those of you who aren’t really geeking out on swing stuff, let’s take, we’ll just kind of, this is not his spine. Obviously this is

This belt buckle line of spine. That should be back over here. Oops, not very good line there. Sacrum would be roughly there and then maybe that’s a spine angle. And then we can kind of try to do the same thing with Kevin sacrum here,

But you can see there’s an obvious difference in how much his head is leaning away from the target. Now watch has become down into impact. You can see that Lucas is much, much more on top of the ball in relationship to his spine. Whereas Kevin is leaning much birther back. You can see a big difference in their release points. At this point, you can see that Lucas has his hands much further forward. He’s controlling the spin loft a lot more. Should we talk about an upcoming video? Kevin’s left wrist is breaking down a little bit and doesn’t have the same hand forward position as Lucas. Now, none of that stuff just yet. So now let’s see what really matters. What I’m interested in from an injury prevention perspective is what we call these double spikes or double peaks. Now, Kevin is not nearly as big of a guy as Lucas yet he’s generating 286 pounds of force.

Whereas Lucas is only generating 250, but in terms of peak forces, it’s much lower than the peak forces that Lucas generated. Now just a really simple understanding if you’re a, this is done a large part of this is due to how much mass you have, how much weight, how much force you can generate through the ground. Lucas being a bigger guy is physically has the potential to have generate more force. But obviously Kevin being a small guy, he’s still generating a lot of vertical force, but the big difference is the secondary peak. To me, the reason is as I’m going to bring up a few more examples in just a moment, Lucas has no known injuries that I could find any back injuries related to his golf swing. Kevin missed a lot of golf due to back injuries. And you’ll notice that the secondary peak is very close to the primary peak in vertical force.

Now, why does this matter? This is forced. It’s going back through your body. So at this point in the swing, if we focus in on Kevin, watch his left foot here, you’ll see it pivot. And then boom, when it lands and strikes again is when we see that peak in the vertical force. Now, where is that vertical force going? Well, it’s going through your body. It’s going through your joints. It’s going through your hips, your legs, and most importantly, your spine as it goes back through. So you’ll see in Lucas’s swing. If we go back through the same thing, you’ll see that he has, I’m going to talk more about the lateral forces in just a bit, but he’s a bit more rotational and you don’t see that big uplift of his foot. You see more of a rolling and rotational movement of the pelvis.

And so you don’t see as big of a secondary peak. Perhaps these are directly related, perhaps they’re not, but Kevin has had back problems. You can see if you watch on the right, his face on view, how much he starts dropping his head back immediately. That puts a lot more weight on the trail foot. You’ll see, in this case, at this same point in the swing, Kevin has 94% of his pressure on his right foot. And Lucas has 42% of his pressure on his right foot as you unweight that left foot. It’s now going to come back down to earth, how you land on that foot can possibly in my estimation, put you at risk for back injuries. Now let’s take a look. I want you to I’ll keep Kevin’s force up here, his a vertical force up here and let’s pull up another golfer.

Who’s had back injuries. This is Justin Rose, and you’ll see a similar trend. Let’s sync them to impact. And so now, if we look at Justin Rose’s swing, you’ll see that he has also not quite to the same level of Kevin NAS, but another high vertical, second peak. And you’ll watch his left foot. You’ll see it spins out, but it doesn’t have the big secondary strike where you know, Kevin is up on his toes and then has the heel strike. It goes from Toyota or ball of the foot to the heel and creates that big secondary peak. But both of these guys have similar looking peaks. Whereas Lucas had a very high primary peak. And then the second one was very, very low. One had back problems, one doesn’t Justin Rose back problems. Let’s take a look at another guy who had back surgery as a result of his golf swing.

So Brian Gay now Brian is also a very short hitter, but generates a very high amount of vertical force will sync them to impact. And now again, you see a huge amount of vertical force, 378 pounds, but you’ll see a matching secondary peak at 317 pounds of force going through his spine. When it’s in a vulnerable position, you can look at his body at this point. Is that the best way for your body to absorb shock the best stacking of your joints, the best position for your body to be into observe absorb 400 pounds of force coming back through your left leg. Cause that’s where it’s coming through. Right? He’s got 77% of his pressures on that side. And Brian has had back problems he’s had back surgery are the secondary peaks issues that need to be seriously explored in the golf swing and are there ways to reduce them?

Definitely. There are ways to reduce them. Are these direct you know, EKG indicators of future for back injuries? I think they might be speaking with the guys at swing catalyst. They have a PhD biomechanics on staff, and I spoke to him about it. Anecdotally, they have seen their instructors who are using this, seeing their tour players who have these big secondary peaks complaining of back injuries. But this is anecdotal, right? This is still in its infancy stage. But I think it’s very, very important because I started experimenting with things in my swing that started leading to the same thing. So let’s take a look at those.

Chuck Quinton

is the founder of the RotarySwing Tour online golf instruction learning system. He played golf professionally for 8 years and has been teaching golf since 1995 and has worked with more than 100 playing professionals who have played on the PGA, Web.com and other major tours around the world.