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Friday, July 5, 2013


Tiger Woods Elbow Injury - We Predicted It

Okay, maybe the title of this post was a little overdone...We didn't actually predict that Tiger Woods HIMSELF would have an elbow injury at THIS particular time, but we have predicted more elbow injuries on the PGA Tour... especially in the majors. No doubt... For sure... Only a matter of time.
And we'll see more wrist & hand injuries as well if grip training doesn't change.
We just returned back to Vancouver from the (NATA) National Athletic Trainers Association meeting in Las Vegas... these professionals understand our message. These trainers get it! The environment is changing in grip training. Tiger Woods elbow injury is opening many eyes!
So why are we so sure about these PGA Tour elbow injuries? Two reasons:
1. Repetitive gripping is up in professional golf.
2. Roughs are up in professional golf.
Let me explain.
i) Repetitive gripping is of course inherent in the game of golf... always has been, always will be.
What is different about the modern professional golfer is exactly how much they repetitively grip... during tournament play... daily practice ...and now - in the modern era of the physically fit golfer - during exercise. Professional and high-level amateur golfers are training more and more. That means more and more gripping of dumbbells, kettlebells, and even God-forbid spueeze balls and grip-only devices. The market is that competitive. Fitness is that important.
On first glance, this statement may seem like a contradiction in our message today (i.e. wouldn't more training and more fitness mean LESS injuries?), but traditional training in relation to the grip muscles has not evolved. It has remained in the dark ages. In fact, it is currently very poorly understood and barely studied, to the point of an actual 'handicap' to the professional golfer... and all grip athletes! Why are we so apt to use grip-only devices? Or do no hand/grip training at all? Trust me, it is indeed one one of the most key areas for proper training to the golfer or any grip athlete. And Tiger Woods elbow injury becomes a prime example. But the same was true for Mike Weir, Anthony Kim, Lanny Wadkins, Doug Tewell, Nick Price, Julie Inskster, Yani Tseng, etc., etc., etc. But now it's Tiger... and the world is likely to take notice.
Let's start at the start, The mechanics of grip:
We know, through sEMG studies, that when we grip anything (whether it be a golf club, a tennis racquet, a guitar, a dumbbell, a kettlebell, etc.), BOTH the muscles that close the hand contract AND the muscles that open the hand contract. Grip is a co-contraction.
This means that the hand opening (extensor/abductor) muscles contract to support the contraction of the hand closing (flexor/adductor) muscles so that the hand can grip. Stay with me now... The problem is that the 9 muscles that close the hand contract through a relatively full range of motion, BUT the muscles that open the hand contract in relatively one position STATICALLY.
Thus, the entire extensor chain of muscles (from the back of the fingers to outside of the elbow) contract over and over in one position - creating a weak, overused, inflexible stabilizer band that is very open to INJURY.
This extensor band of muscles also affects the stability of the fingers, hand, wrist, carpal tunnel & elbow because it also offsets the flexor band to keep the joints balanced. In other words imbalance between the flexor band and the extensor band are a root cause of a lot of injures and painful conditions, not just elbow injuries!!!
But of course we are talking about the elbow today. Tiger's elbow. Imagine Tiger or any other professional golfer (or high level amateur) hitting a shot through thick rough (& worse if the rough is wet as in the 2013 US Open) with a inflexible, overused extensor band of muscle leading through the shot? It's crazy! Yet that is just what is happening because of outdated, dangerous grip strengthening techniques. We're just as surprised when a PGA Tour player is not injured after one of these shot types!
ii) Regarding high rough, because the modern professional golfer is so much stronger and the golf equipment is so much more advanced (players, clubs AND balls), tournament commitees have to find a way to protect the golf courses... and long gnarly rough is often the answer, especially in majors. Add rain into the mix, and you have the perfect storm (parden the pun... imbalanced hand, wrists, carpal tunnels & elbows + high rough) for hand, wrist, carpal tunnel & elbow injuries.
So why are elite professional golfers training so poorly? The answer: I dunno. For some reason the balance of the hand, wrist, carpal tunnel & elbow is ignored and not closely studied. Its as if the traditional 'grip-only' devices are so readily accepted that they are not suspected. Often players get a hold of a spring loaded or coiled 'grip-only' device (God forbid... read on...) or a tennis ball (God forbid again). Absolutely the wrong idea - like telling someone with poor posture to slouch more!

The key to healthy extensor stabilizer band is to exercise the hand-opening muscles through their full, natural ROM to offset the demands of daily play, practise and training. It is the only way! Without healthy grip stabilizer extensor chain the flexor chain (on the front of the fingers, hand, wrist, carpal tunnel & elbow) will be un-opposed and allowed to collapse. The result is fingers and thumbs that are shortened in flexion, collapsing of the carpal tunnel (Ken Venturi), and shortening of the medial (inside) elbow. Exercising any joint through full ROM's also ensures maximum circulation which is how all tissues and joints stay healthy, strong and flexible. All of these imbalances and weaknesses just because the hand opening muscles are ignored - allowed to contract in one static position everyday throughout the career of these great athletes. No other muscle group is treated so irresponsibly!!!
Maybe Tiger Woods' injury will finally draw the proper attention to this imbalance that it deserves.
We are converting many more therapists, professional athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches to this subject, so the cure is on it's way. It's just a matter of education. But one thing is for sure, no other area in the body is neglected as much as the hand, wrist, carpal tunnel and elbow. It's time to come out of the dark ages. Maybe Tiger Woods elbow injury will finally do just that.
And think of the other sports where demands on hand, wrist, carpal tunnel & elbow are huge under poor grip training techniques. Think tennis, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, bodybuilding, extreme sports, etc. The list goes on... and so do the injuries...
For more information on Handmaster Plus please visit: Please pass this article on to any grip athlete or therapist/trainer. We make PROPER training super-easy and have many professional athletes and trainers using the product easily and conveniently.
Contact us at for more information regarding hand, wrist, carpal tunnel & elbow stability.

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