Spring has sprung, which means the greens await your arrival. Before you spring onto the course, consider these tips to help get that ball to bite this season.
Stretching daily is the key for golf professionals and novices, alike. Sport professionals and physical therapists agree that the most common golf injuries for athletes to watch out for are back, shoulder, elbow or wrist-related. With a few minutes of daily stretching, warming up and light workouts, you’ll be hitting the sweet spots and feeling like a much stronger competitor.
“A golfer needs to pay attention to their whole body,” said Larry Yack, Physical Therapist at Physiotherapy Associates’ Patriot Sports Medicine in McLean, Va.
Proper attire is very important to protect your body from the elements, but being in physical shape is crucial.
“If players go out to the course with a cold swing they are making their bodies very vulnerable to injury,” said Yack, recent member of the PGA Tour Sportsmedicine Team.
A golf training program depends on a balance between strength training, a broad range-of-motion and aerobic exercises. Many golfers do not take the time to workout or even warm-up before hitting the course because they may perceive golf to be a sport that does not require a physical fitness regimen.
Patriot Sports Medicine recommends avoiding undue injuries, even during the offseason, by completing a full warm-up by toning and stretching all the muscle groups from your calves to your shoulders and neck by using these pre-game stretching tips:
1. Shoulders, Back – Holding your club at either end, left hand holding one end and right holding another, bring it above your head, arms extended. Stretch your arms backward past your ears and hold the stretch, then bring it back to the starting position and repeat several times.
2. Hamstrings, Back, Glutes – With your feet spread square with your shoulders, bring the club back above your head as before. Squat until you feel it, but do not overdue it because it may cause strain on the back or knees. The up-and-down movement will increase circulation into the back and hip muscles. Repeat 10 to 15 times, and this stretch will act as a warm-up to add to the other stretches.
3. Abs, Back, Hips – Bring your club to your chest, crossing your arms around it. Rotate your upper body from side to side a few times, feeling the stretch and loosening of the muscles. Bring your feet close together and repeat. The different stance will loosen your muscles even more.
4. Calves, Hip Flexors – Place your right knee on the ground and your left foot flat on the ground out in front of you. Tilt your hips so your belt buckle is pointing up and push your hips forward. Maintain the tilt the hips and hold for about five seconds. Repeat with the opposite knee down and right foot forward. This exercise will loosen your hips to help perfect your swing.
5. Hamstrings – Find a tree, railing or even the seat of someone else’s golf cart to put your right leg on. Creating a comfortable angle between the raised right leg and the left on the ground, bend your upper body from the left hip toward the elevated right leg. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds before switching and elevating the left leg. If you complete the stretch correctly, you will definitely feel your hamstrings extend.
6. Hips – Hold the club upside-down with the grip at the ground. Twist at your hips several times, making sure to feel the loosening. This stretch is particularly important so your body is prepared to make the similar motion when hitting the ball at the tee.
7. Arms, Shoulders – Bring your right arm across your chest right beneath your chin. Grab and hold it at the elbow or bicep, and pull toward your chest until you feel the stretch. This will help loosen your arms and shoulders for the broad range-of-motion involved in your swing.
A full range-of-motion is important because golf is a one-sided sport, according to Yack. One side of your body does the work while the other side simply absorbs stress. To maintain a full range-of-motion:
1. Swing two clubs, like you may see some do at a baseball game, back and forth to create the range-of-motion for both sides of you body to stay loose and comfortable.
2. Stand on one leg while swinging the other in front of you and behind you like a pendulum. Don’t bend at your waist; try to stand straight up. Repeat several times or until your body feels loose.
3. Repeat No. 2 but use your arms to create a windmill motion. This will have basically the same effect, and it will have you swinging away without injury.
Whether you’re a professional, an amateur or just a recreational golfer, your body deserves the necessary preparation to avoid injury. So, get out there, golf lovers, and avoid the hazards on and off the course.