Ryder Cup Jitters Help us Understand Pain

by Dan Atkinson

Its Ryder cup day! The only time its ok to shout and jeer on the golf course, its Happy Gilmore in reality! 

What can we learn from these athletes and how does that relate to pain? 

To set the scene lets think about the first tee shot. There is a grandstand containing 7,000 people behind the golfers as they take the first shot and cheering (or booing if you are on team USA) as you walk to take your place. How does this make you feel? How does your body respond? 

Nervous? Excited? 

These emotions will activate pathways in the brain which will actively change the state of your body, making that first shot that little bit harder. If it is a new experience you may tighten up, all smoothness of movement gone, you lose the ability to control your body in this state and off goes the ball into the water. 

If you are Rory Mcilroy, you love the situation, you get a ‘drive’ from it, your body is energised and you relax, you have done this before and it all went well. Your shot flies down the middle of the fairway. Well done brain and body, working together.

Apply this situation to lifting your child out of their bed or lifting a 140kg deadlift in the gym. Last time you did that you hurt yourself. Its 6 months later but you remember that feeling and you don’t want it again. You are nervous and your brains emotions override its ability to coordinate smooth and efficient movement, and so you bend over looking like your back is made of a steel pipe, no different to that golfer hitting that first shot. 

What can we learn from that? 

In order to fully recover from an injury we ideally want to restore full effortless movement, control isn’t the goal. Can you revisit a movement that didn’t go so well in the past and learn again to move smoothly. Rory will have hit his fair share of bad shots, but he has trained himself to control his mind and his body will respond to it! 

So if you have had an injury in the past, try videoing yourself doing a movement you are nervous about, how does it look and are you over protecting your body and hence limiting your function? 






Finally, COME ON EUROPE!!!