Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aging Process and Sports; Why Our Bodies Resist Us; Is There Any Help Out There?

Tiger Woods is at 35 developing swing number 4 (by my count).  He, unlike most others, keeps trying to adapt a golf swing to the new limitations posed by the aging process as it appears in his body.  Plus Woods has had 4 surgeries on his left knee (indicating the stresses the knees endure with the conventional swing).  Nicklaus did a lot of swing tinkering, as did Palmer, as they began to stiffen from aging.  But Woods really [changes] his swing to adapt to the new limitations imposed by his aging body. 

As we age we stiffen - why?  As we age our muscles and bones become less stable.  This is usually attributed to what is called “fascia,” the glue-like substance that connects every part of the body together.  It’s the fascia, for example, that binds specific cells into tissues, tissues into organs, organs into a body system.  Besides that, it cements all of our internal structures into place and covers our entire body.
When we’re young, our fascia is supple and allows us to move with enormous freedom.  We can bend (over backwards if necessary) and jump and throw with an ease that as we start to not be able to do that causes us all sorts of pain and discomfort and puzzlement.  And, yes, we can swing a golf club as hard as we want and suffer very little discomfort (if any) until we reach a certain age, say 28.  

It’s hard to come to terms that at 28 we’re not the same person we were - physically - at 24.  But in that mere four year period, we begin to experience the effects of aging.  Our body begins to lose its elasticity.  “The rubber band” syndrome sets in.  When this begins we feel body parts becoming more rigid.  And as we move along to 45, 55, 65, etc., we get stiffer and stiffer.  I, in an attempt at humor, tell everyone that rigor mortis sets in much earlier than we might assume.
Golfers who want to keep playing must adapt to a different kind of swing or suffer the consequences
I was doing fine until I turned 60.  Then my drives went from a consistent 275 yards to about 250 (if I made good contact and executed a strong finish).  Then at about 62, maybe 63, my drives were down to 225 or less.  My scores (I carried as low as a 5 handicap) went through the roof.  Depressing.


So, with the hand writing on the wall, I started developing what is now The Mongoose Golf Swing, which I fondly refer to as the “Goose.”  It took me more than two years to work my way through all the changes I had to make - most notably completely changing from a leg-driven swing to a top-down swing.  Why?  
Well, we continue for a much longer time having quite a lot of strength left in our upper bodies.  Our legs turn to jelly, but our arms and shoulders and back muscles remain surprisingly adequate to apply all the power you need to strike the ball as hard as you need to execute a particular shot.
With the Goose I got rid of the lower back pain I was starting to suffer from.  I figured out how to get my legs to just go along for the ride during the swing.  And I found a way to make it easier to apply force without having to coil my shoulders around so far - which of course produces enormous torque on the spine and lower back muscles (the cause of severe pain in so many of the touring professionals, many of whom are still in their 20s). 
Change is inevitable when it comes to many aspects of life.  All our relationships go through changes: wife, husband, kids, friends, jobs, where we live, what we do for recreation, etc.  It seems that our whole world gets turned upside down about every 10 years or so.  Suddenly we’re on some meds for our heart or our stomach or just to deal with the daily aches and pains of life.
Stretching is the best way to get the body ready to play golf. . .
Gentle stretching - a must or suffer consequences

Stretching is mandatory for anyone over 30 (in my opinion) before playing a round of golf.  I will post a series of stretching exercises here over the next few weeks.  The important thing is to not overstretch anything before warming up with some very minor stretching exercises.  For example, don’t try to bend down and touch your toes just after you parked your car at the golf course.  Arch your back a little.  Lift your legs up a little, no more than to the waist.  Arch, lift the legs, then move slowly from side to side with one leg up, then the other.  You get the picture.
Remember, throughout your life your bones are always moving.  Even when we sleep we move around.  Between the joints are layers of protective material called cartilage (I know many of you know this).  But what most of us don’t realize is that as the cartilage wears away, they begin failing to lubricate the bones so they can move easily and without discomfort.  This always leads to some pain.  It can also lead to osteoarthritis, which some of you may already have.
One of the great things about the Goose is that it noticeably reduces the impact on our bodies.  In addition to that, with my grip, which separates the hands, you can once again wield the club all the way through the swing.  No doubt you’ve watched older guys seemingly quitting on their follow through.  The reason is the loss of muscle elasticity.  The Goose is a way of leaping over a lot of physical challenges and once again playing the game as if you were a kid again.
To ORDER my Goose tutorial DVD - just click on the BUY NOW button in the right column.  Pick up 33 minutes of ARRR! and within a short time be playing at a new level and without (or significantly less) pain or discomfort.

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