ALLISON PARK, Pa. — Don’t know about you, but when I hear the words ‘physical therapy,’ I think of injuries.
No doubt, physical therapy is a primary route to healing the body, but I hadn’t considered much how it might allow me to strengthen and maximize my performance.
Particularly as it pertains to golf, I thought that swing mechanics were strictly in the purview of teaching pros, not medical professionals.
I was wrong.
This week, a one-hour consultation with Andrew Dulak, owner and founder of Dulak Physical Therapy and Golf, opened my mind to the possibilities of refining my swing with the help of a focused physical evaluation.
Dulak operates his business primarily out of the no-frills Fitness Werqs, where he has his own hitting station set up — featuring foam balls for safety, naturally — in addition to everything he needs to implement what he calls his WellGolfer Program.
My sampling of Dulak’s services began with an evaluation inspired by Titleist Performance Institute guidelines. A golfer himself, Dulak is certified by the TPI in addition to owning a doctorate in physical therapy from Pitt and several years practicing his craft.
As you can watch below on my full session with Dulak, we started with running down the TPI checklist, which examines the flexibility and strength in every joint and muscle group that activates during the golf swing.
Turns out I checked out at average or above in every category (woo!) except one: Hip mobility in the backswing. Specifically, my hips don’t turn as well going back as they do when I turn through the ball and into the follow-through.
Dulak speculated some of this deficit might be a byproduct of something a lot of us were taught around the turn of the century, or even a few years later. Namely, that restricting one’s hip turn on the backswing was a key to power.
That so-called ‘X-Factor’ method has fallen out of favor with additional research, but there’s no doubt elements of that still linger in my mind … and apparently my movement patterns.
On top of that, we might just be looking at a plain-old strength deficit in my right gluteus medius. I’ve known this for a while: I might have a big butt, but it’s not necessarily a strong one.
So, with the directive to activate my glutes before swinging, thus flattening out a restrictive lower back arch, I was suddenly able to get a little more hip turn and reduce a slight sway off the ball that I’ve fought since I was a junior.
At times, I’ve been able to corral or limit that lateral move on the backswing, but it still crops up over and over again as my ball-striking Achilles heel. And it all starts in the butt. Guess 2015 Tiger and I have one thing in common.
Dulak helped me arrive at this conclusion on site via the use of video software, making the connection between what he noticed during the physical evaluation and what his iPad saw when I made a few swings with a mid-iron.
All in all, my 60-minute session provided a good example of what this kind of holistic approach can do for your game.
The jury’s still out on whether I can make the necessary adjustments — both on the course and off — to unlock a stronger, more consistent swing mechanic, but I feel armed with the needed knowledge to attack this.
The above is just one golfer’s experience with Dulak’s Specialized Movement Training package, which can be supplemented with in-person follow-ups and Mobile Wellness Coaching, which provides Dulak’s personalized workout plans and accountability features that ensure you get the most value for your dollar.
Dulak’s initial golf evaluation is $200, with follow-up sessions available at a discounted rate if you buy them in one of the multiple package deals he has available. Contact Dulak Physical Therapy and Golf at 412-437-1798, or fill out the contact form on the website.