Golf Exercises by Lydia Butler
Would you like to lower your handicap as well as gain a few extra yards on your drive this year?
Would you also like to reduce your risk of injury, and have more energy at the end of the 18th hole?
For many years, both on the PGA tour and for golfers in general, fitness was not considered a high priority. Times have changed. The game’s best players now realize the importance of conditioning and the impact it has on their game and injury prevention.
In one study conducted in 1997, recreational golfers aged 45 to 52 with a mean handicap of 18 went through an eight week golf specific strength and flexibility program. The results were that their average club head speed increased by 5 miles per hour, shoulder and hip flexibility increased by 8 -10% and trunk rotation increased by 23 -25%.
Every golfer can benefit from staying in better shape. Improving your golf game requires a bit more than simply playing a lot of golf, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym either.
Like other sports or well rounded fitness programs golf requires concentration on the three following components which are essential to enhanced golf performance and injury prevention: cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility.
Lack of conditioning, poor technique, early season eagerness and inflexibility all contribute to the risk of injury at the driving range and the golf course. The explosive action and repetitive nature of the golf swing places significant stress on the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints and produces high torque forces on the lower back and hips. Studies have shown that these areas are the most prone to injury for the golfer. If you are not strong and flexible in these areas you can experience game limiting injuries. Strength training and stretching have a valuable role in injury prevention, correcting muscle imbalances and improving posture.
Regardless of whether you are walking or using a cart, several hours of playing can leave you feeling fatigued on the last few holes and your golf performance will suffer.
Improved cardiovascular fitness will allow you to walk 18 holes and play your game without feeling so tired and help you stay focused throughout the game. Your performance will be more consistent. Cardiovascular conditioning will help you deal with the stress of making a crucial putt or when to trying to escape from a sand trap.
Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of walking, cycling or whatever aerobic activity you prefer three times per week to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
By strengthening muscles in your trunk, shoulders, wrists, forearms and legs you can improve your golf game. Strength and power are essential for generating club head speed and distance.
The golf swing involves a strong and powerful rotation of the body. It is important to strengthen the muscles that are involved in maintaining the proper set up and swing. These muscles include the core muscles (abdominals and back). Strong abdominals, particularly the oblique and transverses muscles are important for optimizing club head speed, generating swing power and protecting your spine and hips.
Your leg muscles are responsible for producing power and initiating your swing. Strong legs and hips are extremely important for anchoring the lower body. They support the rotation of your trunk and enable you to create more speed as you turn.
Your core muscles transfer force from your legs to your torso to accelerate your swing. Your torso muscles produce the actual swinging action and are critical for club head speed. Strong arm muscles will help with both club control and club head accuracy.
Special attention should be also paid to the hands, wrists and forearms. The stronger a player’s hands, wrists and forearms are, the lighter he or she can hold onto the club and still maintain an adequate amount of control, resulting in a more relaxed and fluid swing.
Try to build up your strength in these areas by doing exercises two to three times per week on alternate days. Try to do one or two sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise to the point of fatigue.
Because the golf swing is mainly one sided, it is important to exercise opposing sides of the body to balance your strength and to avoid injuries.
You can increase your club swing range by improving your flexibility. Better trunk and joint flexibility will let you swing in a fluid manner through a full range of motion. You can increase the range of motion in your shoulders, trunk, low back and hamstrings with just a few minutes of daily stretching focusing on these areas.
You should also do some stretching at the end of your game. You will feel less muscular tension and decrease your chance of injury. Always do a warm up before stretching and hold each stretch for approximately 15- 20 seconds. Muscles should be stretched slowly with until a gentle stretch or mild discomfort is felt. Stretching should not be painful.
Following are a few strength and flexibility exercises that target those golf muscles and will help you get into the swing of things.
-Exercises should be performed in a slow and controlled manner.
-Maintain normal breathing
-Maintain good postural alignment when performing the exercises
-If you feel pain…stop.
-If you have any injuries or health concerns it is advisable that you consult with a physician or physiotherapist before starting an exercise program.