Monday Rehab: How to Fix Tiger Woods

Yes, I know how to fix Tiger and get him back to playing his best golf ever!………well, not really, but I figured I would jump on the bandwagon today since everyone else seems to know what he needs to do!

Tiger has been the subject of much talk today on Golf Channel, Good Morning America and PGA Tour Radio.  Everywhere I turn today, someone is talking about whether or not he’s going to play the Masters, if he should ever play again, will he ever win another major, can Tiger Woods make a comeback?!  This is in part because he has a book coming out, but I feel like until the day he announces that he’s done, speculation will only continue about what the future holds for his golf game.

Before I dive into this, if you didn’t read the ESPN article written by Wright Thompson from last year on him, do it now!  This is really the first complete look many of us have had into why Tiger appears to be struggling physically so much these days.  Over the years, there were always rumors about his workouts.  So many people thought he was crazy for lifting weights and working his butt off in the gym just as much as he did on the course.  Frankly, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have a job right now.  He is the single reason fitness for golf became a “thing”.

But he is also the reason we have such a large debate going these days about whether golfers need to lift weights the way he did.  Brandel Chamblee in particular likes to go crazy on this subject.  He goes as far to warn other golfers that if they lift heavy weights, they may suffer the same consequences that Tiger has with his body.

Is this really true though?  Can lifting weights be detrimental to a golfer?

The answer is Yes……and No.  Ok, before you throw something at me for not picking a side, let me explain myself!

Before I ever start loading up a lot of weight on someone, assessments are key!  I need to see someone move, be challenged, have a full understanding of the puzzle standing before me.  Without that information, lifting weights will most likely cause a problem.  If someone is severely restricted in range of motion due to an actual mobility problem, and there is something we can do to improve this, it has to be accounted for first before loading.  If you load weight on faulty movement patterns or on someone who isn’t using their full range of motion, you will hurt them or make them tight.  Now, there are some cases where I get someone (like me) who presents as immobile when standing, but you put them on the ground and do passive range of motion and find out that is not the case.  They are in fact suffering from a stability problem.  With someone like this, loading weight can actually improve what they are doing because when you challenge them, it sparks the muscles to begin stabilizing.  Like I said, you have to get A LOT of information beforehand to decide on a plan that involves loading heavy weight.

Another factor, technique and muscle firing patterns.  If I’m going to have someone do heavy squats, deadlifts and olympic lifts, they better prove to me that those glutes know how to work and they better have good technique.  Sometimes this takes a lot of coaching to get to this point and in others, you find out that there are physical barriers that make those particular exercises just not safe.  It just goes back to proper assessment and being able to coach an athlete up to success.

At the end of the day, if an athlete can satisfy all the pre requisites needed to lift heavy and we deem it important to their programming, then all signs are a go to get after it.  But, if they cannot, we find a way to work around it in a safe manner.  The single most important variable for me as a trainer is keeping my clients safe.

Let me also drop this tid bit here though.  Strength training does not always have to involve weights.  I define it as a force being applied to the muscles that causes an adaptation.  For many that is their own body weight, for others they have to modify that even further and sometimes you have to add weight to get the desired response.  Do we want to build strength so that you can lift heavy stuff, you bet!  But everyone has to start at the right level or else all hell will break lose and you’ll end up spending more time with the medical team than training!

What does all of this have to do with Tiger Woods?  If you read the ESPN article, you get a glimpse into the life of someone who was pushing their body to limits beyond extreme.  He put more mileage on his body off the golf course than on.  Now, golf is a very violent sport.  Don’t laugh, it’s the truth!  While we may not be faced with blunt force trauma, the torque and impact made on the body during a golf swing his unreal!  Add in running 5 miles a day in combat boots and all I have to say is, why are you surprised that he’s screwed up?

The worst thing we can all do is assume though.  None of us have any idea what his rehab process looks like.  This morning Hank Haney tried to assume that Tiger is back in the gym hitting it hard like he used to.  We don’t know that.  We’re talking about a guy who named is private yacht “Privacy”.  No one will ever really know what is going on until he finally gets back out there or perhaps calls it quits.

In the meantime, we can use his story as a lesson.  Understand the needs of your body and make sure you have goals and a plan.  Train for something…..anything, just make sure you have a purpose.  Seek out help if you feel lost in the gym or have pain.  There is a way to improve, but the first step is reaching out.  I’m more guilty of this than anyone else.  When I was in college, I became so obsessed with exercising that I was logging 60 miles a week running on top of playing golf 5 hours everyday.  One time, I loaded my backpack up with rocks and ran the Spokane South Hill trail.  My hips were killing me the entire time to the point where I couldn’t even lift my leg up.  But I kept going, what an idiot!  Crap, I went off on a tangent there, sorry.  Back to the lesson…….Train Smarter, not harder.

See you all tomorrow!

-S

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