Winter 2010 Issue

Our Golf-Related Spine Rehab & Fitness Program Offers Focused Care

It was happening two or three times a day. Patients who were recovering from back injury or surgery were asking physical therapist Graham Claytor, MPT, if there were any special exercises that could help them get back on the golf course more quickly. This constant level of interest was the impetus for the creation of the Golf Fitness Program at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates.

“We saw the need for a golf-related program that helped patients not only recover from their injuries and return to play safely, but also avoid future injury,” said Graham who co-founded the program with practice physiatrist John Lesher, MD.

The compressive forces sent through the spine during a golf swing have been shown to be about eight times a person’s body weight. That’s why it is so important for a golfer to have proper conditioning and optimize anatomical mechanics,” said Dr. Lesher.

Both Dr. Lesher and Graham are certified by the Titleist Performance Institute, a nationally recognized center that evaluates and tests pro tour golfers. Additional members of the physical therapy team at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates are currently completing golf-related training.

Who Can Benefit?
Golfers of all ages and skill levels can benefit from the Golf Fitness Program. This includes junior golfers who are just getting started, patients who are recovering from back surgery, weekend warriors who want to improve their physical conditioning, and retirees who want to get back
out on the golf course.

Joining the Program
To get involved with the Golf Fitness Program, patients can be referred by their primary physician or by their golf pro if they take lessons or belong to a country club. It usually takes at least five visits for patients to get the full benefit of the program. Some require 10 to 12 visits.

On the first visit, patients are examined and evaluated based on 8 to 10 assessments, including flexibility in the thoracic spine, balance, core strength, and hip movement. After deficits on the patient’s right and left side are determined, exercises are prescribed to address those deficits. Patients who have seen a golf pro can also bring in a video of their swing, along with the pro’s assessment. If they are sliding in their swing or coming over the top, the Golf Fitness Program staff can determine which exercises can help.

To learn more about the Golf Fitness Program at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates call 800-344-6716, or go to where you can also view video interviews with Dr. Lesher and physical therapist Graham Claytor, MPT.

Golf Fitness Program profile:

Physiatry Services Include:

  • Comprehensive musculoskeletal and golf-specific history and physical examination
  • Diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound evaluations Electrodiagnostic studies to evaluate for peripheral nerve disorders
  • Fluoroscopically-guided therapeutic and
  • diagnostic spinal injections
  • Surgical referrals as needed

Golf Fitness & Conditioning Services Include:

  • Instruction in pre-round warm-up and injury prevention
  • Tee box exercises
  • In-season/off-season conditioning programs
  • Assessment of common swing faults and golf biomechanics
Physical Therapy Services Include:
  • Treatment provided by licensed physical therapists
  • Individualized in-clinic and at-home exercise programs
  • Lumbar and cervical spinal decompressive traction
  • Spinal manipulative therapy
  • Skilled manual therapy and massage
  • Patient education
  • Future injury prevention
  • Evaluation of individual motion impairments

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