What Performance Therapy Looks Like For Top Golfers

This post was originally posted by Whitley Bay Chiropractic. We've published with permission here.

By Tom Feeney DC

The game of golf is changing, athleticism and strength is more important than ever.  Players now employ a team to keep them healthy and workout smarter to improve performance. This article will reveal the methods and techniques the professionals use that the average hacker may not of heard of. 

The best golfers in the world use Active Release Techniques® (ART) providers who specialize in TPI exercise prescription.  Troy Van Biezen and Shane Lawlor are two ART / TPI experts who have been on tour for years with some of the biggest names in golf.  Van Biezen works with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney,.. while Lawlor has been on the european Tour for 6 years with the likes of Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington.

The importance of expert soft tissue therapy

The focus of golf performance therapy is to ensure that the golfer has full range movement of the spine, shoulders, hips,knees, and ankles.  Imbalances or asymmetries of movement can cause other areas of the body to compensate. Often muscles and sometimes joint capsules restrict flexibility. Hands on manual therapy is the quickest way to address most flexibility issues. “The soft tissue component is crucial, imbalances and dysfunctions need to be addressed.” says Chiropractor Troy Van Biezen who travels on tour with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Nick Watney.

“Troy Van Biezen has been an integral member of my team since high school, I trust him fully and he now tours with me. Chiropractic care with a goal of achieving better postural balance and injury prevention, has been invaluable to my health, performance, and success.” Jordan Spieth

Van Biezen uses a soft tissue therapy called Active Release Techniques (ART).  It is the market leading soft tissue therapy in the world, almost every professional sports team in North America employs an ART provider. The technique involves a patient shortening a muscle, the ART provider applies tension to the muscle with his/her fingers.  The patient then stretches the muscle, pulling the muscle under the provider’s contact.  The manual tension combined with the movement of the muscle improves flexibility immediately. 

If you’re not assessing, you’re just guessing

During the week of a golf tournament, Van Biezen takes his athletes through an assessment every morning. Van Biezen describes the normal routine as, “Players get a functional assessment including muscle testing and joint range of motion testing two hours before tee-times, we follow it up with hands on treatment and a dynamic warm-up. Each player’s individual tendencies and imbalances are checked and addressed to stay on top of them. After the round, corrective based exercises are employed.” The system must be yielding results as the players he tours with are higher than ever in the world rankings.

Dr. Van Biezen with Zach Johnson and the team.

Movement screening is used to find imbalances. Weaker muscles often over work, and as imbalances become worse the weaker muscle can break down and becomes painful. After applying the hands on therapy specific exercises are used to address the imbalances which the screening has flagged up.

A couple of good example occurred recently, one with Nick Watney, “Nick was struggling with his swing one week, and he brought his coach in. The imbalances and weaknesses we found in the screening evaluation were evident in his golf swing. I was able to show his coach what we usually see, his typical patterns and how we correct it through soft tissue adjustments and corrective exercises”. 

The other example occurred when Spieth’s coach, Cameron McCormick, noticed a tendency  for him to sway when swinging. McCormick asked Van Biezen and his trainer to focus on increasing Spieth’s hip mobility (McCormick and Van Biezen are both TPI Certified). This is achieved by testing and firstly improving the movement fundamentals of mobility, coordination, and balance. Only when these fundamentals are mastered does strength, endurance, power, and skill acquisition become the focus of training.  

The wall of clients at Van Biezen's ChiroSport in Dallas is a who's who across golf, baseball and hockey.

How to take the pressure off of the lower back

Lower back pain in golfers is an example where addressing the problem is often best served by getting better movement of the hips and mid-back.  “If the mid-back and hips are not rotating enough the lumbar spine may compensate and the lumbar spine is not designed for a great deal of rotation”, says Chiropractor Shane Lawlor who has spent many years on tour with the likes of Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington. Lawlor who is also ART and TPI certified is an expert in providing his players tailored rehabilitation and training programs. The tour players need efficient and effective training due to time constraints.. “Some of the mistakes I see are overstretching, players often waste energy and time stretching an area that doesn’t need it. Another problem is spending too much time doing isolated strength work. Multi-joint exercises require more full body stability and flexibility and are therefore more effective for golfers. Lastly players need to build on a foundation of decent flexibility and stability, before strength and power work is added to the training.”

“Shane is an integral part of my performance team and he has definitely added to my game over the past 3 years. His combined skills of Chiropractic & ART ensure that I am prepared physically for each round I play. I believe working with Shane is helping me to prevent injuries and will hopefully lengthen my career.” Shane Lowry

How can recreational golfers benefit?

The average hacker has the same flexibility problems as the professionals only worse in most cases. If you feel your flexibility or balance is holding your game back seek out a TPI professional who works with an ART soft tissue specialist.  Flexibility issues can occur in the neck, shoulder, mid-back, hips, hamstrings and/or the calves.  Getting them assessed properly by an expert is the starting point, get focused therapy, and then a tailored exercise program to maximize your athleticism, just like the professionals do.


Tom Feeney

Tom Feeney DC, ART has worked with athletes from the NFL, CFL, NHL, WWE, EPL, and Olympic Medalists since 1997. Website:

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