Intrinsic Biomechanics for the Golfer

Golf is a sport of complexity, for that there is no doubt; and with so many factors determining the final resting place for that little white ball, it is essential to eliminate as many of these factors that are with-in your control as much as possible. One of these factors is your intrinsic biomechanics:

There are two types of biomechanics:

  • Extrinsic
  • Intrinsic

Extrinsic Biomechanics looks at the actual mechanics of the swing. How the player addresses the ball, their take-away, backswing, downswing, impact and finish. (I’ll leave this part to Simon Tillson!). Although this is without a doubt the make of any good player, it is how the body achieves this intrinsically that will determine how consistent they will be and how much at risk they are to injury.

Intrinsic Biomechanics is how the body functions during the golf swing; looking at what compensations maybe happening intrinsically in order to perform the extrinsic movement of the golf swing.

Let me give you an example:

Leg length discrepancy is defined as a difference in leg length. This could be genuine, i.e.

A longer femur in one leg, or it could be biomechanical, i.e. pelvic rotation.

How this affects the golfer

If there is a leg length discrepancy, the facet joints of the spine may get compressed as compensation on one side over the other.                      

A difference in leg length will inevitably open the player up to potential injury, while hampering their golf. This will reduce the golfer’s ability to rotate, and therefore the golfer will have to side bend (which relieves the load on the facet joints) to allow rotation. This could lead to many swing faults and create inconsistency during the swing and may cause back injuries on and off the course.

To create the desired movement extrinsically -by making the body biomechanically sound, the golfer can work on their fitness and strengthen the body (in particular the core). In a better position, and then by practising and working on their swing, they know that their body is not compensating intrinsically.

The result, better and safer golf!


About Michael Andreou

Biomechanics Coach, Sports Therapist & Personal Trainer
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3 Responses to Intrinsic Biomechanics for the Golfer

  1. Martin H says:

    Thats very interesting Mike. I’m a 15 handicapper and I have a particularly poor shot that comes in and spoils my score card most rounds; its a slice (like many golfers i guess). I hit a bad one 2-3 times per round. I also have some back ache from time to time, could the biomechanical problems you talk about in your article be responsible for both the slice and the back ache? i’ve always wondered if i have a leg length descrepancy too could this be related.
    Thank you

  2. Hi Martin, thanks for getting involved. Both could absolutely be biomechanical. Let’s start with the slice (now bearing in mind I am not a swing coach here…that’s Simon’s job). A slice can be caused by so many varying factors from ball position, to swing plane, to grip (as I said Simon is the man for this) However, if biomechanically you have a functional leg length discrepancy as I described in the article then many varying swing faults can creep in. Each facet joint has limited degrees of rotation and if they get compressed due to a leg length discrepancy this reduces the amount of rotation even more, therefore in order to relieve stress on the joints and allow rotation to take place you may find yourself creating a reverse pivot or a slight sway which both leave you open to a slice.
    As for the back pain, a leg length discrepancy will cause certain muscles in the lower back and around the pelvis and hips to either become tight, stiff or is spasm…or long, weak and in spasm. (Just to clarify we are talking sub-clinical muscle spasm that maybe asymptomatic) This will reduce the ability for your core to work sufficiently, which will leave the back unstable and vulnerable. And of course if you are trying to force rotation around joints that are compressed this will also lead to back pain.
    For more information get yourself along to your local biomechanics coach who can asses you and give you a series of exercise that you can do to help ease back pain and hopefully ease those 2-3 bad shots in your round. Also keep an eye on Golf Monkey for more articles and the next Golf Biomechanics Seminar that I’ll be running.

    Golf Body

  3. Martin,
    Hopefully Michael’s comments have helped you. There is only one reason you slice though!! You are hitting the ball with a club face that points right of the swing path at impact. What causes that to happen could be a number of things and I would advise you to seek help from a qualified professional.

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