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The Use of 3-D Motion Capture in a Golf PT Evaluation

golf k-vest low back pain May 06, 2020

For the last 5 months, we have been using the K Motion K-Vest as a part of our golf-specific physical therapy evaluations. This has been an incredible tool that provides invaluable information to add to our movement evaluations. Have you been to physical therapy in the past? I can assure you that after reading this blog post, you will see how we are much different.


What is K-Vest?


The K-Vest involves 4 bluetooth sensors. On around your pelvis, one around your torso, one on your lead arm, and one that is used on your glove to act as the club. The setup takes a couple of minutes – compared to some other systems that take upwards of 20 minutes to set up. We love how practical it is so that we can spend more time evaluating you and coming up with a plan to solve your problem. The Bluetooth sensors connect to a software program on the computer.


What does K-Vest measure?


We use the K-Vest for a number of things, but these are the most common:

  • Kinematic Sequence – a perfectly efficient kinematic sequence starts the downswing in this order: Pelvis, torso, arm, club. Often times, a golfer’s sequence is out of order, leading to a loss of speed and power – meaning decreased distance. Most commonly, the pelvis does not initiate the downswing, and/or the hands fire much too early. If we can correct the sequence, it will most certainly lead to increased swing speeds and increased distance.


  • Measure degrees of motion in 3-D. With the K-Vest, we can see exactly how much rotation, flexion/extension, and sidebend you are getting throughout different parts of your golf swing. The most important parts are setup, top, and impact. We will look at how much (or how little) your pelvis, spine, and torso are moving throughout these positions.


  • Identify swing faults that lead to pain. This is a BIG one. I will give an example of this. Reverse Spine Angle is the number one predictor of low back pain in golf (when talking swing characteristics at least). Reverse Spine Angle means that your upper body is leaning too far backwards or too far towards the target in the backswing. We define this as going past 0 (neutral). I don’t know about you, but I cannot tell the difference between 0 and 1 degree of motion with the naked eye. Sure, you may be able to see 10 degrees, but it is almost impossible to see 1 or 2 degrees. If you are having low back pain, and we identify Reverse Spine Angle, we NEED to fix this.


  • Biofeedback: Sometimes, golfers get into harmful positions without having any mobility/strength deficits. While this is a more rare occurrence, it DOES happen. We need to train the brain to get into the correct position. We can set up a biofeedback session so that the golfer can practice getting into the correct position. We also use biofeedback when we acquire new mobility, and the golfer needs to learn how to use that new mobility. Just because we gain motion, definitely does not mean we know how to use it.


After we gather this information, we go through our PT movement evaluation. We will take the information that the K-Vest software just gave us, and figure out the WHY. We will take the time to figure out the exact cause – is it mobility, stability, strength, or motor control dysfunction? We have golf specific movement screens from the Titleist Performance Institute and we know exactly how much motion you need to be able to play golf without pain.


Now, we have all the information we need. We now come up with a PLAN to improve upon your limitations and start heading towards reaching your goals. We will give you an individualized home exercise program to work on in between visits, and progress/regress as necessary at each follow up session.


On average, a simple problem can be solved in about 6 visits. A more complex, chronic condition usually takes around 10 sessions. We usually see our clients once per week, and educate on what they should be doing on their own between sessions.


Does this sound like a typical Physical Therapy session that you have had in the past? Absolutely not. This usually takes 90 minutes plus, but we get to the direct cause of your problems instead of just chasing symptoms.


Ready to schedule?


Get in Touch:

(949) 409-1339
Kevin O’Connor, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
TPI Medical 3 and Junior 2 Certified
Owner – Impact Physical Therapy and Performance
Physical Therapist – Laguna Niguel, California
[email protected]



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