Is Day’s unique balloon therapy finally paying off?
February 07, 2020
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Jason Day sinks 22-footer for birdie at AT&T Pebble Beach
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It’s been roughly a year since Jason Day first discussed the balloon therapy that helps keep his rib cage in place, strengthens his core and loosens his back. That means a year of 30-minute sessions blowing into balloons at the gym while others are pumping iron.
“Mind you, you feel self-conscious," Day acknowledged, noting that "no one else is blowing up balloons."
On the flip side, he’s become pretty adept at it.
“Got really good at farm animals and … swords and stuff like that,” he said. “If you need a kids’ party, I can do it for you.”
Yes, he knows exactly how that comes across. But at this point, the 32-year-old Australian is trying anything he can to stay healthy and avoid the kind of back problems that have nagged at his career. The latest example came late in 2019 when he aggravated his back during a practice session and was forced to miss the Presidents Cup in his native land.
Of course, when he’s healthy, the 12-time PGA TOUR winner is one of golf’s best players. He showed that again Friday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am when he shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 at Pebble Beach – tying Chris Baker’s 64, also at Pebble Beach, for low round of the day – to move into solo second at 12 under, two shots behind leader Nick Taylor at the halfway point. Both Day and Taylor will be at Spyglass Hill on Saturday in the final day of the three-course rotation.
It’s no surprise that Day is playing well in this event. He has six top-10 finishes in 10 career starts, including top-5s in the previous three years. “I would like to change having the top-5s,” Day said. “I would like to win.”
It’s getting close to two years since Day’s last TOUR win at the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship. He was ranked seventh in the world after that win, but a tough 2019 campaign dropped him to 46th entering this week. The pain in his back became so bad – and the stress to deliver on those high expectations became so intense – that he wondered if he should continue playing. Frustrating and losing confidence, he told his wife at one point, “I think I’m nearly done here.”
But those dark moments subsided. He persevered, hoping his health and his game would improve. Even if he’s not all the way back to where he once was – he ended 2016 as the game’s top-ranked player -- he feels better about things.
One area that seems to be coming around is his putting. He’s doing less of it during practice rounds – instead of 200 putts that might take more than two hours, he’s about at half that amount – and that’s allowed him to focus more on it.
“Hoping that kind of lowering the reps and upping the concentration … will kind of even itself out,” he said.
Oh, and yes, the balloon therapy helps, too.
Jason Day holes out for eagle at AT&T Pebble Beach
It was developed by the Postural Restoration Institute more than a decade ago. Day’s trainer Kevin Duffy introduced his client to it.
After his round Friday, Day explained how it works.
“If I stood with my shirt off, my rib cage always faces right,” he said. “So I’m trying -- through balloons, blowing into them; I could do it without it – and I’m trying to hold a certain position and get my rib cage back into position.
“But through blowing up a balloon, it actually pressurizes everything for you because if you don’t hold that breath and exhale out, it honestly feels like you’re suffocating. That’s the feeling that I’m trying to get.”
He wants to make sure his thoracic is mobile and that he’s not turning from his lower back. “That’s really kind of why a lot of golfers have back problems because they get too tight in the thoracic and then they get tight hips and then they get their rotation through their lower back,” he said.
So now, of course, you’re going to picture him blowing into balloons. Smile if you will. But also take another look at the second-round leaderboard. Jason Day is producing more than farm animals this week.