Somax Analysis of Tiger Woods
At The US Open

A frame-by-frame videotape analysis of Tiger Woods at the 2001 US Open shows some physical changes that could account for his performance and may, unfortunately, lead to some serious problems in the future if not corrected.

 

As you can see in these two photos, taken from the videotape of this year’s Open, Tiger tilts strongly to his right every time he lands on his right foot. This is something new for him.

This tilting is more than cosmetic, because every time he lands on his right foot this way, the muscles in his lower left back must contract in order to prevent him from falling over to the right side. This constant work, for which the lower back muscles were not designed, can lead to spasm and lower back pain. In addition, the tilting applies more pressure on the right side of his lumbar discs, and can eventually, if not corrected, weaken the disc wall, leading to a protrusion which impinges on the nerves as they leave the spine.  

If we look at photos below of his walking from this years Masters tournament, we don’t see this tilt at all.

 

As we look at photos of Tiger below from the front, we can see the cause of this tilting.

 

The tilting is the result of a right-bending C-curve in his spine, which can be inferred from the strong tilt to the right of the white line on his shirt. You can also see, looking at the photos above, that his right shoulder is quite a bit lower than his left, something that was only slightly evident at the Masters.

This tilting of the line is not just from the hiking up of his left sleeve. It is evident on all the photos of him from the front during the Open.

This C-curve is not uncommon in golfers. It comes from the overuse of the right stomach muscles (obliques) during the downswing. Golfers typically overuse these muscles because their hips are tight and fire late. Because their hips are not providing the power necessary to launch the ball, the golfer compensates by powering the club on his downswing with the weaker stomach muscles. As the muscles are overused, microfibers, a mild form of scar tissue, form in between the muscles to bind them together so that they can heal. The microfibers are like an internal cast.

Once the muscles recover, the microfibers not only do not go away, but they tend to accumulate over time. It is the accumulation of these microfibers that makes us get stiffer as we get older.

Tiger did not have this problem before as he had plenty of hip flexibility and turned his hips early in his swing. In examining his swing mechanics from the Open, however, I find that he is rotating his hips less, and rotating them later in his swing. As a result, he now pulls his head down during his downswing as he compensates with his stomach muscles to power the club.

The overuse of the right obliques on the downswing opens the clubface slightly at impact, pushing the ball to the right, which was a problem for Tiger during the Open.

Since a golfer also uses the stomach muscles during putting, tightness in these muscles can throw off his putting as well.

The solution is to release the microfibers that have formed between his muscles to restore the flexibility he had before. This will not only help him control his club better, transfer the work of swinging back to the bigger and stronger hip muscles, but will also prevent his having back problems in the future.

A number of tour golfers have improved their flexibility and performance during the past few years after we released their microfibers. One pro improved his putting average from #113 to #1, and his ranking in sand saves from #125 to #2. Another increased his longest drive from 295 to 400, and a third shot the lowest score for a round (61) and tournament in the history of the LPGA, and went on to win the British Women's Open.