Derrick Rose: Career in Jeopardy! Why he may never be the same.

To keep up with the latest from Zig Ziegler, follow Zig on twitter @zig_ziegler.

In this day and age of high flying, fast moving, power displaying NBA players, Derrick Rose was regarded as one of the best! MVP in 2010-11 season; comparisons to Michael Jordan; and numerous championships already planned for Chicago in the minds of fans like me.  The dream of Chicago Bulls fans around the world has now come to a knee buckling jump stop. Hoping for the best for you D. Rose, but I have major concerns. So here we go…

Derrick Rose tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligament) while performing his signature power move: Jump Stop and attack or pass.  Since his rookie season in the NBA, Rose has amazed fans around the world with his athletic ability, conjuring up images of and comparisons to the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan who led the bulls to six (6) NBA championships (All of us Bulls fans know there would have been more banners if not for baseball).

While watching the video, you’ll notice Rose’s body was off balance (if you look closely) as he landed with more weight on his left leg than his right leg. This is a move that is partially learned (NBA players often practice the move landing on the inside leg incorrectly) and in other cases it is done subconsciously, as a compensation for weakness or injury to the other leg. Weight should be more evenly distributed with more weight on the outside leg to actually change directions more effectively.

While moving to his right, Rose should have been preparing his body to land with slightly more weight on his right leg than his left.  To help you understand, when moving to the right, it is the right leg’s job to stop the lateral movement to the right. The left leg acts as a decelerator with weight distribution (40-45% left, 60-55% right). In Rose’s case, his left leg (in hitting the ground with more of Rose bodyweight on it) attempted to stop his motion to the right, with limited weight absorbed on his right leg (based upon an evaluation of Rose’s posture in video footage of the incident).

Absolute Kinetix: Fitness From the Ground Up!

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW OF ZIG’S NEW BOOK!!!

In my opinion, Rose was most likely compensating (as many great athletes would do) for the foot injury/soreness he felt less than two weeks ago. Now Rose has been battling injuries all year:

According to Fox Sports these are the injuries reported since January 11, 2012:

1/11/2012 Sprained left big toe. (Catalyst to right leg injuries)

1/16/2012 Sprained left big toe.

2/10/2012 Strained lower back

3/14/2012 Groin

4/10/2012 Sprained Right Ankle (Key injury leading contributor to ACL/MCL tear)

4/16/2012 Soreness Right Foot (Key injury major contributor to ACL/MCL tear)

Other injuries Rose suffered during his brief career include additional injuries to his right ankle and a bruise to his right hip from a collision with Dwight Howard in 2010.

Rose’s injury patterns indicate a clear cut case of compensating injuries shifting back and forth from his right side to his left, and from his feet/a

nkles up to his knees (with the exception of ankle sprains and contact related injuries).  It is blatantly obvious to anyone who understands how the body works that Rose’ left leg should have been experiencing a significant amount of left leg fatigue as a result of the recent right foot and ankle injuries, regardless of what caused them.

In my opinion, this injury would have happened anytime.  And unless Rose and his medical team address the root mean cause of his previou

s

injurie

s and compensations related to them, the ACL injury could not have been prevented.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that some of Rose’s injuries occur because he plays fearlessly with reckless abandon.  It is that style of play that now w

ith an ACL and MCL injury could lead to more injuries from Rose. In addition to the risk of more injuries (next up is

either a reoccurrence of the left ACL tear or a tear of the right ACL within 12 to 18 months (which is actually pretty common).

I’m thinking a tear of his right ACL happens first but this one is tough to predict because of Rose’s style of play. If I were to complete a 3D Motion Analysis of Rose’s body, I’d be able to provide a more accurate prediction (This is based solely on my opinion and evaluation of his injury history and playing style).

Rose ACL tear is clearly related to his recent injuries.  Many people are asking should Coach Tom Thibodeau have taken Rose out of the game.

Actually, coach has no idea about limits that should have been placed on Rose after his recent string of injuries. However, common sense would tell any medical professional that Rose’s play should have been limited (bring up images of Brandon Roy against Phoenix in 2009 playoffs).

It’s easy to see that Rose was compensating for the soreness in his right foot. This can be done consciously or subconsciously. Only Rose really know

s how

his foot feels when he jumps, changes directions, or lands on it. If Rose was feeling any fatigue at all in his foot, it was up to him to salvage his career. However, because no player wants to be considered soft and take himself out of the game, Rose chose to stay in the game (as would every other athlete who is taught “no pain, no gain”) hopefully sending a message to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Please keep in mind it is the medical staff whose job it is to impose limitations on players’ time on the court or in a game when a player returns from

injury.  It is not the responsibility of the coaches at the professional or any level to determine if a player is physically recovered.  Thibodeau’s job is to play the players who are eligible to play, not monitor rehab and fitness levels of players. So let’s give Thibodeau a break. If the injury hadn’t happened, and the Bulls won by 20 with rose on the court, this topic related to the injury would be a non-issue.

When Rose comes back after surgery, his style of play will definitely change. We won’t see the old powerful, explosive Derrick Rose for 2? 3? Ma

ybe 4 years, and that’s only if there are no setbacks over the first year.  His signature “jump stop” power move could be what ends the career of another bright young NBA star.  Keep in mind, an ACL injury is not like a meniscus/cartilage injury.  It can be death to an athlete who relies on explosiveness and changing directions. The ACL and MCL provide stability to the knee, while cartilage essentially acts as a cushion.  Rose needs stability of the knee for his game to be effective. It will be at least one year before Rose’s repaired ACL is healed enough to provide the stability for the types of moves Rose needs to make when playing.  And let’s also not forget about those chronic injuries on his right side.  They could at any time cause an injury to his right knee or re-injury to his left.

Yes. Derrick Rose will play again but it is highly unlikely he be the same high flying Derrick Rose we knew before the fourth quarter was near its end this past Saturday. I’m praying for a safe surgery and really, really, good rehab. And hey Derrick in case you’re listening, objective measurements of how your body is functioning during rehab and identifications of your injury related compensations will be the key to your return to the Derrick Rose glory days. Speaking as a Bulls fan sin

ce the arrival my home states’ Scottie Pippen, I’m pulling for D. Rose.

While I have not worked with Derrick Rose, I write this post at the request of several readers who have posted or emailed with questions about the topic.  My preference is to comment on athletes based on objective information.  This post is merely my opinion based upon a subjective review of Rose’s injury history and video of the actual incident in which Rose tore his ACL.

On Wednesday, I’ll discuss ACL injuries, the surgical procedures and the most common aspect related to the surgery and rehab that could be considered negligent in the areas of orthopedic surgery and rehab.  In this story, I’ll explain why I feel Derrick Rose’ career could be over and what Rose and his therapists and trainers can do to help extend his career and reduce the risk of repeat or compensation injuries related to the ACL/MCL reconstruction he is about to undergo.

Zig Ziegler, The Sports Kinesiologist, provides feedback on injuries to A-List athletes in an effort to help educate athletes and parents on the prevention of injuries.  Be sure to check out other stories here about Greg Oden, Mark Sanchez, Tiger Woods, and more.  Follow on twitter @zig_ziegler

We Can’t Just Keep Cutting on Athletes…

Image

Where does the force go when it starts to build up in a joint? If the body does not redistribute the forces appropriately, an injury will occur.

We can’t just keep cutting on athletes or anyone else for that matter. Every time an athlete undergoes a procedure to fix one problem, another issue is likely to pop up. This statement should be considered 100% true unless procedures are put in place during rehabilitation or prehab to address the actual, root cause of the problem.  These new issues can lead to other injuries, which are termed  “compensation injuries”, may be noticed during the rehab or upon return to sports participation.  This should be done only by an athletic trainer, therapist or physician trained to look for such compensations, rather than guessing at the potential compensations.

“When an athlete suffers an injury that requires surgery, he must absolutely undergo the recommended surgery to repair the damage,” said Dr. Stephen Shoemaker of Torrey Pines Orthopaedic Medical Group in La Jolla, California. “However, it’s the rehab that now becomes the most important part of the process to ensure the athlete recovers from the procedure.”

This is the key to return to sports activity.  In addition to rehab of the injured area, protocols should now be put in place to address the compensation patterns the athlete will develop immediately following the injury and subsequent surgery.

In some cases, the injury may be caused by contact. Such an injury typically may the easiest to recover from physically, but may require more to overcome the psychological trauma associated with the contact.  However, non-contact injuries are usually an indication of an inability of the person suffering the injury to absorb the forces properly.  This type of injury may be the most difficult to fully recover from as the contributing factors are lead by inefficiencies of the person’s body which may go undetected during rehab.

To help gain a clear picture of what is being said here, we must understand a couple factors.  There are several types of forces at play in any given activity. For this writing, we will just refer to them  as : 1) action forces, which we’ll define as the forces which are imparted upon a body part (muscle, bone ,or joint).  Action forces are trying to escape the muscle, joint or bone (segment) during motion in multiple movement planes and directions.  The other force to be mindful of is 2) Reaction force, which is the force the the body exerts to attempt to control those forces trying to escape the body part (bone, muscle, or joint).

The athlete’s muscles must exert reaction forces by activating the muscles of the body affected as the action forces are at work escaping the body. If the athlete’s muscles are unable to properly control and redirect the action and reaction forces, an injury occurs.  In the case of an athlete who suffers a non-contact knee injury, the action forces absorbed by the knee were too powerful (or in some cases the forces moved too quickly) for the muscle to react and protect the joint.  At this point injury occurs.

Example: Forces imparted upon and exerted by the human body are much like the forces we feel in a car in going around a turn or when stopping.  If we go too fast around a turn or don’t press on the brakes appropriately, the force may be too much for a driver to redirect the vehicle. A crash or failure to stop is likely to occur.

Much like the driver of a car, an athlete must redirect the forces or injury will occur.  The severity of the injury depends largely on the amount and type of forces and the person’s ability to react efficiently to control them.

If the injury is to the ligaments of the knee, the muscles typically failed to respond in time or the force was too great to absorb efficiently. As a result, the ligaments of the joint were left to fend off those forces but failed.  Ligaments are not capable of withstanding extreme forces and just like a rubber band will snap when stretched past their limits. In addition, this can cause a simultaneous injury inside the joint to the meniscus (cartilage).  In some cases, the ligaments will stretch but not tear.  In the case of an injury inside joint to the meniscus, but not the ligaments, the friction forces (linear or rotational) may have caused damage.   This typically occurs when the ligaments themselves have more laxity or flexibility or the direction of the force was greater than the maximum flexibility of the ligaments in that direction.

The human body is the greatest machine known to man.  It is a great compensator for forces acting upon it and often, through human efforts (reaction), redirects the body to reduce the impact of forces. The body will always find a way to do the “task” we ask it to perform as long as the physical strength and flexibility required to perform the task is present. This means that if we ask the body to jump using both legs equally, the body will perform the task with weight distributed as evenly as the body is capable of while absorbing and disbursing the forces as the body sees fit (compensation).

In a recent post, I discussed Greg Oden’s injuries and the results of my findings after conducting a 3D-biomechanics evaluation of his walking, running, squatting, and jumping motion.  The data obtained when analyzed alone shows that Greg had developed significant compensations to address his body’s inability to absorb forces appropriately in both of his legs.  Greg Oden can be the great player he once was in college and dominate professional basketball.  This can be done with much less rehab than he has already undergone and possibly no further surgical procedures. (This decision for additional surgery is left to the athlete and experts in soft tissue repair and evaluation).

It’s apparent by the history of multiple injuries suffered and surgical procedures, that Greg has muscles in certain areas of his body that fail to contract on time or possess enough strength to absorb and distribute the forces appropriately throughout his body.  In kinesiology and biomechanics, first and foremost, we must evaluate the sequence of forces as they move through the body.  In walking, running, and jumping, the first joint to store and release energy is the big toe on each foot. If an athlete is jumping using both legs, they must begin to squat which transfers vertical energy downward towards the ground (through the feet).  Once that energy reaches the ground, it begins to release upwards along the same path on which it was delivered to the ground.  If the path downward was flawed because of muscle imbalances, weaknesses, or neuropathy (disruption of the nerve signal), the muscles and joints are overloaded and an injury may occur.

In the case of Greg Oden’s patella tendon related injury, the forces of gravity were attempting to return his 7 ft tall, 270 pound body to the ground during landing following a leap in the air.  On the way to landing, Greg’s muscle imbalance is likely to have caused an overload of the muscles and joints along the way. This improper absorption of forces caused the injury.   As a result of his own imbalances, Greg was a ticking time bomb.

Once on the court, his patella injury would be considered a freak accident by the casual observer and fans. At which point, Greg may be labeled injury prone (due to his history of injuries) or God only knows what other names fans and the media would label him.  However, because Greg has had years to develop the compensations for weaknesses related to previous injuries, it was destined to happen unless those weaknesses and imbalances were addressed. To diffuse the bomb, recovery efforts could take as little as 4 weeks to 12 weeks, putting Greg back in action provided no other surgeries are needed to repair damage already done to his body.  However, if surgery is taken as an action to repair the damage and alleviate the pain or discomfort he is suffering without addressing the true weaknesses, the recovery period is guaranteed to be significantly longer.

Non-contact injuries are an indication of the inability to properly act and react, causing a build up of forces incapable of being overcome with physical effort. The upward bound or shear forces will escape in any fraction of 360 degrees (in all directions) of motion surrounding each body segment (bone and muscles) and joint the forces must pass through.

Most of us agree that an epidemic exists in our country with respect to the growing problem of childhood and adult obesity, however, another epidemic is at work as well. The epidemic I speak of us is the growth of injuries in sports: both chronic and acute. Despite the existence of fitness training, sports performance, and sports rehab facilities popping up faster than fast food franchises, injuries are still growing, and most are repetitive injuries.

Chronic injuries occur because we are so quick to dismiss our health related issues. If our car starts to make noises or smell funny, we take it into the mechanic. If we wait too long, the problem gets worse and other problems surface.  When it comes to our body, we are very quick to ignore the signs and symptoms which enables the problem to worsen. In ignoring the problem, we typically shift the stress to other parts of our body until we can no longer get around it.

I was fortunate enough to conduct the entire rehab program for a 14 year- old high school female basketball player who suffered bi-lateral (right and left knee) ACL injuries within 9 months of each other.  I started her rehab following her second ACL tear. That athlete and many others were able to avoid future injuries because we addressed the muscle imbalances and root causes of the injuries.  The most neglected part of her prior rehab was  rotational instability above and below the joint.  At the moment, rotational instability following knee surgery is not address at all in rehab.   But in reality, rotational instability must be addressed early in rehab along with more emphasis placed on the strength and proprioception of her lower leg and feet (not just the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles).

That 14 year-old girl is now a two months shy of her 18th birthday and just completed her senior season of high school basketball with no further occurrence of injury in any part of her body. While the level of play is not the same as professional sports, the demands on the body of a high school athlete are relative to their physical development, as are the demands of a professional athlete.  (This is just one example.).

It’s time for a new standard of care for taking care of our bodies.  All of those who work with athletes and everyday people should work to obtain objective measurements and strive for physical balance and symmetry.  In “data” we trust not “speculation and guesswork”.  Every fitness trainer, coach, or physical therapist should rely on their eyes first and then call upon experience second to evaluate what they saw.  We must apply the principles of human movement to rehab focusing on how the body performs the exercise not just the completion of the exercise.  At this point, we should implement customized rehab programs based on the athlete instead of current protocols which are based solely on recovering from the surgical procedure or the injury.

Everyone has an opinion but we need to eliminate the guesswork.  As an industry, all professional who work with people in sports performance, rehab, and medicine need check our opinions at the door and do what’s best for the athlete rather than trying to keep our our jobs.  “Do no harm” is the first objective.  However, harm is done unintentionally to the athlete if standardized protocols for rehab continue to be the standard of care for injuries.

There are a lot of experts who may disagree with my posts and I welcome their feedback. I will gladly post any rebuttal or response to any post on this blog provided they are done in a tasteful and respectful manner. I reserve the right to reject comments and posts that contain profanity, are personal attacks, or lack foundation.  All opinions are welcome just remember that youth athletes, parents, and others view my blogs. So I welcome and encourage respectful debate and comment.

Tiger: Still Inconsistent? The Sports Kinesiologist Zig Ziegler’s Biomechanics Review

While watching Tiger Woods dominate the field at Arnold Palmer’s 2012 Bay Hill Invitational, I found myself for the first time in a long time watching and enjoying the moment.  I got a chance to be a fan.  Like millions of other viewers, I wanted Tiger to win.  And Win He did.

Throughout the weekend, it was amazing to hear all the bandwagon jumpers who’ve abandoned Tiger since 2009, praising the return of Tiger Woods. “He’s back,” many golf experts proclaimed. Every expert watching from day one was pulling for Tiger to win and had great reasons to pull for Tiger. Most importantly, it helps their jobs, gives them a hot topic, and is great for the game of golf.  Congrats on the win Tiger.  But is is the Tiger Woods of old?

Image

When kneeling, we can see Tiger supporting the majority of his body weight on the left leg. This can be seen as an indication tightness and weakness in his right leg.

Not so fast.

While I have not had a chance to conduct a full biomechanics assessment on Tiger’s swing from just two weeks ago at Bay Hill, visually there were still glaring issues with his swing and body.  Just two weeks prior to Bay Hill, Tiger withdrew from the WGC-Cadillac Championship citing a left leg injury.  It was later reported that Tiger was suffering from left Achilles tendon soreness…again.

While the world is ready to anoint Tiger’s swing coach and Tiger victorious for making changes to his his swing that may return him to greatness, I’m not quite there yet.  When Tiger struggles, both Tiger and all around him quickly blame his inability to put swing traits related to his “old swing” behind him.  In reality, two things are two blame, neither of which are related to his old swing.  Both reasons for Tiger’s struggles are related to Tiger’s old body not his new swing.  The same physical limitations related to Tiger’s fitness are the only reason he continues to struggle in spite of his new swing.

The Achilles tendon soreness will continue to pop up in Tiger’s game unless and until he address on a regular (daily) basis.  Tiger needs to bring along his massage therapist, muscle activation specialist, or other manual therapy expert to help assist him with recovery from round to round, not just week week.  The therapist should focus on releasing tightness and fatigue in Tiger’s entire left leg, from foot to hip. In particular, unlock the left ankle with manual therapy on the anterior (front) side of the lower leg while addressing fatigue in the gastroc/soleus areas (calves).  This will release the ankle dorsi flexors and allow Tiger to get back into planter flexion during his swing.  this will allow Tiger’s body weight to be more evenly distributed towards the middle of the left foot, enabling him to apply the brakes and maintain a better position of his hips at impact.

The biggest contributor to the left Achilles tendon sores in Tiger…Right leg weaknesses.  Tiger’s right leg still shows significant signs or weakness. As a result, Tiger’s “new swing” and right leg weaknesses force Tiger to repeatedly overuse his left leg in the swing.

When we look at Tiger’s swing from Bay Hill several flaws show up, which when rested, Tiger is capable of overcoming. However, as soon as fatigue in the left leg sets in, Tiger begins to over-swing with his upper body to compensate for the fatigue on the left leg and weakness on the right leg.  At Bay Hill, Tiger’s posture was the most improved I had seen in months.  However, when we look closely at his feet during each swing, here is what I see.

1. Tiger’s weight is distributed more towards the middle to front of his feet at address. During his backswing, Tiger’s weight shifts into both heels. It drifts to the outside back heel on his right foot and the inside back heel of his left foot.

2. During his downswing, Tiger’s weight shifts forward towards the center of his feet.

Now here is where the first compensation for weaknesses in his right leg begins to show up…

At Bay Hill, Tiger’s left foot slides open towards his target slightly during his downswing (It appears to rotate open approximately 10 degrees on shorter shots, but closer to 30 degrees on longer shots).

How does this affect Tiger? Well its actually pretty simple.

At Bay Hill, Tiger’s left leg may not have been as fatigued as it appears during the 2012 Masters Championship in which he is currently playing. As a result, when Tiger’s left foot slides open, the weight which has started to transfer from his heel to the middle of his foot actually ends up closer to the front of his left foot.  In order to stop the weight from continuing to move forward, Tiger must begin to plantar flex (press downwards) with his left foot (as if to apply the brakes on his lower body during  the swing).  This natural reaction pf the body to control his balance during his swing actually forces Tiger’s hips to slow their rotation.  The benefit of this to Tiger is that the braking action initiated by his feet allows his arm rotation to stay ahead of his hip rotation. This keeps Tiger’s back side (right) arm from getting trapped behind his body.

In the good ole days, Tiger had a problem with over rotating or rushing his hips and getting stuck or trapped behind that rotation.  Under Butch Harmon and Hank Haney, Tiger learned to close down his front foot thinking that would slow or limit his hip rotation. This is true but Tiger’s swing mechanics (no reverse weight shift) were so different (as was Tiger’s leg strength) that he was able to overcome the teaching flaw.

In his new swing under Sean Foley, for the first time in his career Tiger Woods is exhibiting major signs of a reverse weight shift (making Tiger Woods play like a mere mortal).  The reverse weight shift makes it look as if Tiger is attempting the Stack and Tilt technique on most of his swings off the tee. His short iron shots however, show a lot less signs of reverse weight shifts. This is due largely in part to Tiger’s focus on the shot accuracy as opposed to the added factors of striving for distance and control off the tee.

Now I have not been in sessions with Tiger’s swing coach. But based upon what it appears they are working on with his swing, a part of the blame for the reverse weight shift is Tiger’s new swing mechanics under Foley. But the bigger contributor is the lack of strength and flexibility in Tiger’s right leg.

In his first two days at the Masters 2012, Tiger’s legs appear very fatigued and as a result, he  is “over swinging” on all swings of distances over 150 yards.  The over swinging shows up as a result of two issues. Weight distribution (in his feet) and hip rotation.  Both of these issues are affected by his left leg fatigue.

At Bay Hill, Tiger was able to overcome the weight distribution issues. At the Master’s 2012, Tiger’s inability to control the weight distribution in his feet, is preventing him from controlling the rotation of his hips. As a results, his hips are significantly more open at impact.  At Bay Hill, Tiger’s hips appear to be close to 30 degrees at impact (exactly 22.5 degrees open at impact is ideal).

At the Masters 2012, Tiger’s hip rotation appears to rotate way past 30 degrees at impact and is closer to 45 degrees open at impact.

The result for Tiger’s shots with hips too open? Big misses to the left.

At one point during a late round missed shot by Tiger on Friday, one of the ESPN announcers said, “I don’t know what the swing plane is that he’s practicing….”.  The announcer was referring to a steep downward practice swing with so much rotation visible that the only place for Tiger to hit the ball was to the left.  Maybe he’s got Beyonce’s song playing in his head or perhaps Tiger is just trying to hard. Regardless, for Tiger to win his 15th Major golf tournament, he must correct this early on Saturday or Tiger Woods will continue to struggle up and down the course.  If he corrects the problem, Tiger may shoot 65. If he does not, Tiger may shot 75…again.

If Tiger can slow down and swing under control he may yet win the Masters 2012. If he does not, we may see him hobbling around or withdrawing on Sunday again blaming left leg issues.

For the long term..Tiger as a fan, please improve the strength and flexibility of your right leg, from the foot  to the hip.  Also, please improve the flexibility/mobility of your left leg. Its extremely fatigued. If not, you’ll be under the knife again. At a minimum…Stretch Your Left Quadriceps! Stretch our Left Quadriceps! Stretch Your Left Quadriceps!

Hey Tiger? All the back pain you’re complaining about is not from your back. That’s a symptom of a bigger problem. So the stretching I see you doing periodically to release discomfort in your mid and upper back and into your neck is related to the same issues identified above.  It’s all connected.

How will we know if Tiger is going to play well..Watch for this major sign.

When Tiger makes a full swing, pay close attention to his posture at and after impact. If Tiger slides his hips, we won’t see him flow naturally to the upright finish position we saw at Bay Hill 2012. If he does not over slide his hips to the left,Tiger will be able to maintain his swing path through the ball longer and stay on target with each shot. That slide will be evident when we see a lot of side bend at impact and then a second move where Tiger has to stand himself up into the upright posture we saw at Bay Hill.  When Tiger is on track, we will see a natural and smooth transition to upright posture at finish. Another quick sign: If Tiger’s right shoulder is point past the target at finish, he is over rotating his hips which allows his shoulders to over rotate. But Tiger and his swing coach must fix the problem not the symptom.

Let’s hope for a smooth fluid swing on Saturday and Sunday so Tiger Woods can win the Masters 2012.

A Sports Kinesiologist’s Take: Why Tiger Woods Really Lost the Pro-Am (and Why He Might Continue to Lose)

PRO-AM REVIEW: “TIGER, JUST AN ABOVE AVERAGE PLAYER NOW.”

While national golf writers are trying to spin some optimism into Tiger’s performance at the Pro-Am Chevron World Challenge and are looking to what’s next for the superstar , I look at things through a kinesiologist’s spyglass. My review of Tiger Woods to date: He’s just an above average player now. However, although he has tumbled from superstar athlete to merely above average golfer status doesn’t mean that a new and improved Tiger Woods can’t emerge.

3-D biomechanical comparisons from his performances in 2007 versus his current performance reveal a number of issues with his swing and his body’s overall health. The 3-D schematics show what the naked eye cannot see.

In figure 1, Tiger’s body might look perfectly straight. However, the measurements tell a different story. Instead of being straight, the data measures about 13 degrees of side bend. The next measurement registers 17 degrees of side bend and that four degrees (though microscopic) could magnify the margin of error as the club makes contact with the ball. In addition, that 4 degrees can turn into plus or minus 12 degrees of hip or shoulder rotation, causing Tiger to push the ball to the right, or a big hooking swing pulling the ball to the left.

In recent performances, Tiger (while thinking his swing is getting better) is actually sliding his body weight into his front side hip more than he thinks to compensate for the weaknesses in his right and left side. Where Tiger’s spine alignment is in relationship to his pelvis, significantly impacts the repeatability of his swing (causing under or over shoulder rotation). In a perfect swing, both legs should be heading towards extension combined with rotation of the pelvis and shoulders.

The right leg should be measure 12 degrees of bend at the knee, indicating muscles firing on the back and front of the back leg. In the ideal world, the left should be exactly zero degrees of knee bend. Instead, Tiger’s knees, in recent performances, have shown 41.4 degrees in the right leg (indicating weak calves, glutes, and hamstring muscles) and 12 in the left (indicating weak calves, and quadriceps muscles—no brakes on the car). In other words, instead of extending his knees on the way to his finish position, Tiger’s weaknesses (and many other average golfers) cause him to lean to the weaker side (evidence that the muscles in his legs are not doing their job).

When you look at the success of any athlete, you need to understand how they use their body; how they use it both efficiently and inefficiently. You need to understand how the body compensates for injury and weakness (we don’t always know to address). The cardinal rule is: The body finds a way to perform the task at hand…and, as a kinesiologist, I try to understand physical limitations or weaknesses the body is attempting to compensate for and how that impacts performance.

Visually, Tiger’s swing has changed completely. Instead of using his left leg to stabilize himself and keep his balance, he is now using his left leg as an accelerator (to help initiate his swing). This is the opposite of what Tiger did as a healthier, superstar golfer. The Old Tiger would use his left leg as the brake, instead of the gas. Why? Tiger (in concert with his old and new swing coach) may not be aware of the purpose of his right leg versus his left leg to his performance. Tiger’s left side and leg are weak in specific areas due to multiple injuries and surgeries. In 2008, he had knee surgery reconstruction his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). At that same time, Tiger has gone on record stating that he also suffered a partially torn achilles tendon. During the drama of his personal life, there was an extensive (crucial) period in rehab where he wasn’t working out which affected his long term healing process. Oh sure, the pain and soreness went away, but if Tiger wasn’t addressing the weaknesses during that crucial period, when he came back to golf, his body had already developed compensatory patterns to make up for the weaknesses.

Tiger’s new strategy with golf swing coach Sean Foley forces him to rely on his already fatigued left side in order to strengthen it. It is a longer term strategy that might be fraught with side-effects and, eventually, injury.

At Chevron, Tiger talked about his swing: “I lost my swing in the middle part of the round, and pieced it back together again,” he said. “I was proud of that. I was very committed coming in, and hit some really, really good shots, which was good. Unfortunately, during the middle part of the round, I lost all those shots,” he said. “And Graeme was playing really well.”

The truth is…Tiger didn’t lose his swing, his body could not repeat the swing because it is the opposite of what he learned to do for over 30 years on the road to becoming the Tiger the golf world feared.  Tiger, its not your swing…it’s your body!  Hank Haney couldn’t fix your swing for the same reason’s he couldn’t improve Charles Barkley’s swing on his TV show. THE SWING IS AFFECTED BY THE BODY!!!!!  You have knee problems related to weakness which affect your swing, Tiger! Charles has knee problems for the same reasons that affect his swing.

Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, won the final match for Europe at Ryder Cup and became the first player to beat Woods when trailing by at least three shots going into the final round. He is the first person to be able to beat Woods in the last 24 attempts.

The Old Tiger invoked a fear of invincibility. In the old days, we could expect Tiger to regularly dominate the leaderboard.  This invincibility was because Tiger’s worst round would was consistently within 4-5 strokes of his best round. That domination requires both mental concentration and a healthy body to repeat the swing. However, a healthy body also requires use of the entire body and if Tiger simply tweaks a few areas of weakness in his body he can return to his former greatness and best Jack Nicolaus’ record.

Here is my prescriptive sports treatment to help Tiger get his game back:

TIGER…CHANGE YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE!!! Perform exercises to isolate your true weaknesses (forget about “functional training, you need to isolate your weaknesses). And after

  1. Work on single leg balance with your eyes closed until you can stand on each leg (with all muscles contracting from your foot to your glutes).  When you can stand on one each leg for 3 minutes without losing your balance you’ve made significant improvements.  That little burning feeling in the bottom of your foot Tiger is a sign of weakness, so don’t ignore it.
  2. Perform single leg calf raises on both legs.  You injuries on your left leg have made it weak in specific areas. Improve the weakness in your foundation.
  3. Perform Single Leg (prone) hamstring curls. (Be careful not to use your lower back by arching to make up for the weakness in your hamstrings) If any joint other than you knee moves, you’re cheating. So isolate the weak muscle. This may mean humbling yourself by not looking at the weight on the machine but identifying whether or not you feel the hamstring curls only in your legs (place more emphasis on the right leg)
  4. Finally, Perform single leg hops on both legs (forwards, backwards, and to both the left and the right). Hold one knee up towards your chest to help ensure you are allowing your glutes to help you stabilize your hips as you hop. 2-3 sets of 40 yards of hopping on each leg in each direction.  Work up to it though so you can take the time to do it right.
  5. Stretch you quadriceps by laying down on a bench in a lunge position and bending your knee (while your thigh is braced against the bench!!!!!!

If Tiger Woods want to dominate the next 5 years of golf like he did before, he should follow one simple motto: My body and my swing are one!!!!!!  Hello World!

Stay updated for more sports mechanics analysis by subscribing to ZigSports RSS feed and following me on Twitter.

With over 18 years of experience in health, fitness, and sports performance improvement, Mr. Ziegler has helped some of the world’s best athletes find their groove in baseball, Olympic softball, basketball, football and many other sports. Learn more in About Zig Ziegler, Sports Kinesiologist.