As nicer weather is hopefully approaching; it is that time of year again where I ask myself: What can I do differently to better my golf game? As an avid recreational golfer I would recommend one of two things: Take Professional Lessons OR Golf More Frequently.
Since I have not taken the professional tip, I try golf to golf as often as I can; which, as a Physical Therapist, I realize will require me to be in golf shape. I continue to be one of the few golfers left that walk and carry their own golf bag. Improving one’s overall fitness level is good for your golf game and will also help prevent injuries.
Golf is a repetitive sport so injury prevention is a must:
It is very important to begin early and to also maintain a good general conditioning program, including stretching, to prevent injury. Overuse or repetitive injuries occur in two ways:
- One does not perform a particular activity for a period of time and then you increase the frequency of that activity rapidly. This is what happens as we take the winter off and begin golfing in the spring.
- One performs the same activity over and over. This happens when we golf all summer, sometimes everyday, repeating our swings hundreds of times.
Warming up and stretching are a huge part of maintaining our flexibility to limit the amount of damage that can occur with repetitive motion.
- Warm-up 5-10 minutes. Walk around, take a few gentle swings of a club and stretch. As you begin to loosen up; progress to hitting a few balls: either from a chipping area or a driving range.
- Start with gentle stretching; making sure to stretch all major muscle groups including the upper body, back and legs.
- Be sure to include warm up activities and stretches to include trunk rotations, hamstrings and shoulders
- Stretch all major muscles groups, spending a little more time as now your muscles are warmed up and more ready to stretch. When stretching; the longer you hold the stretch the better the stretch will be maintained. Research has shown it takes up to 90 seconds of stretching a muscle for it to lengthen. So 3 repetitions of 30 second holds will suffice.
Golf is a physically demanding sport so conditioning is a must:
- Often times a swing flaw is due to a physical restriction or weakness in a particular area of your body. Improving one’s strength, flexibility and balance will help better your swing and prevent your swing from breaking down due to fatigue.
- The main component of your swing is from your lower half. Good ‘core’ (back and belly muscles) and leg strength is a must. Having both will better your balance through your swing.
- Increased strength training and conditioning, as well as, increasing the amount you golf will help increase your ‘muscle memory’. Muscle memory is a term used when a movement is repeated over time, a long-term ‘memory’ is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed with minimal effort.
- Start a daily walking routine then begin lifting light weights or using light resistance bands to start conditioning your upper body.
- As golf season approaches, hit the back yard or driving range with your higher numbered irons working up to your bigger clubs like the woods and driver.
Good luck and Happy Golfing!!!