In this post we discuss the reasons for Rory McIlroy’s back injury and explain why these incidents are not as bizarre as they might seem.
Occasionally sports stars become more relatable when they suffer with problems we’re all familiar with.
Whilst you may not have an average drive of 327 yards, I bet you’ve suffered with the type of back issue that recently impacted Rory McIlroy at the Tour Championship.
Here’s how one sports website described it ‘Rory McIlroy explains bizarre back injury after footage had fans worrying about Ryder Cup.’
Whilst there are certain things about the human body that are bizarre, back injuries aren’t one of them.
What can be deceptive is the trigger. Here’s a guy that’s driving the ball further than any other player on tour and he hurts his back reaching to grab something.
How does this happen?
Think of the trigger as the straw that broke the er… golfer’s back.
More telling is what he had to say about his history of issues;
“I think when I play a lot of golf, especially the end of the season, I always have to manage my right side. My right side always gets pretty tight, my rib cage, intercostals, lats, like, all the way down, right hip.”
So what does muscle tightness represent?
This is where it gets fun. Stay with me for a second as we go through some truly astounding facts about the wetware that’s responsible for regulating tension in your muscles.
To illustrate the complexity involved let’s take a look at interneurons. These are the nerve cells responsible for collating information from both the sensory and motor segments of your nervous system. Think of them as nodes in an electrical circuit.
There are over a billion of them in your brain, each with 1000 connections. That’s a trillion touch points.
So what might seem to be a bizarre incident from the outside, is actually a finely calibrated decision based on mind boggling amounts of feedback.
And what’s our usual response to these events? The same as Rory’s, stretch and foam roll the life out of the area.
This is like taking a hammer to a DeepMind AI system because it’s doing something we don’t understand.
How to reduce muscle tension in a more intelligent way
If there’s an increase in muscle tension there’s a good reason for it. A more effective way to approach the issue is to figure out what that reason is.
How do you do that?
Look for restrictions in range of motion. Where does this highly complex super computer not want you to go?
Now I don’t know Rory but I have worked with many golfers over the years. It’s not uncommon for right handed golfers to have less motion rotating their trunk (torso) to the left.
This seems to be the motion that gets overloaded after multiple drives and can leave golfers prone to tightness and occasional muscle spasms on the right side of their trunk.
This post will show you exactly how to both asses your trunk rotation and give you an exercise to make immediate changes.
Whilst it might seem like muscle tightness and spasms are the problem. They are in fact the solution to the problem.
Instead of addressing them directly, respect the decisions that have been made by the super computer in your brain and look for the underlying cause.
This will not only provide you relief in the short term, but may point you in the direction of muscles that will benefit from resistance training in the long term.