Exercises to Keep you on the Golf Course
In the game of Life, people are continually looking for something to bring happiness to their day. Happiness is defined differently by every person in the world; some enjoy music, books, movies, sports, etc. Many people love to play sports and would play as often and for as long as possible. To do this, these people need to take proactive measures to prevent injury.
The steps to prevent an injury are fairly basic but require good discipline to follow. The athlete needs to start with a healthy diet to have enough energy for sports. Second, depending on the sport, the athlete might need to build muscle through exercise to compete. Finally, every athlete should stretch before playing their sport to get the muscles warm.
Golf is a physically challenging game. Reading the last sentence might cause you to react with a "what? Golf?". This is an understandable reaction. Most of the professionals have someone that carries their clubs for them, so to the outside observer, it appears as though they are only hitting a ball that does not move and walking.
Regular players have a little bit more of a challenge as they have to carry their clubs for the round. Assuming you are not using a cart to drive you around, the regular golfer has to walk roughly 3 miles per 18 holes carrying a 25-30-pound bag on their shoulder and swinging their body regularly. The golf swing itself can be taxing to the human body, as many different parts need to work together to create enough torque for the swing to happen.
Now that I have hopefully convinced you golf can be taxing, you might be wondering what you should do to prepare for playing? The answer, of course, is exercise! You can exercise for strength, flexibility, and for what is referred to as "core", those critical exercises necessary for playing the sport. You might think you can get away with not doing any of these, but doing them will give you better odds of playing the sport for a very long time.
So what exercises should you start with first?
There is not an exact, recommended order for this but strengthening the core of your body (i.e. your abdomen, back, quadriceps, shoulders) is a good starting place. Once your core is strengthened you can then focus on the other muscles of your body for optimal conditioning.
Another good core exercise is the supine leg lift (see figure 2). To perform this exercise, starting from lying flat on the floor, lift one leg in the air and hold it for 1-2 seconds. Do this approximately 10-15 times and then switch legs. Alternatively, you can perform the lateral leg lift exercise (see figure 3); both of these exercises are good for building up strength in your abdomen and legs.
If golf makes you happy as a person, why not prepare your body to enjoy a lifetime of it as long as physically possible? Overuse of muscles or lack of strength can occur easily if you play golf frequently without taking care of your body. Would you prefer to play golf until you are in your 70-80s or have to stop playing in your 40-50s due to poor health? Your 70-80s, of course!
The most common reasons given for warming up included:
Common reasons for not warming up were:
Does it matter, you may ask? Well, yes, it does for injury prevention, since golf is a popular sport with no age limits, and the tendency for the players to be older and often not in good physical condition, contributes to injury risk. Ironically but perhaps predictably it was the older golfers in this study who were least likely to warm-up.
The researchers point out that, according to emergency departments and sports medicine clinics, golfers commonly suffer sprains and other overuse injuries as well as acute traumatic injuries, falls, and impacts with golf balls. Pro-golfers have a higher rate of injury (lifetime injury risk of 89% compared with 57-62% for amateurs. Still, beginners tend to have less well-conditioned bodies and therefore place higher stress on their musculoskeletal systems during the golf swing.
An appropriate warm-up for golfers would include aerobic exercise to raise body temperature, followed by stretching the "golf muscles and joints" (hands, wrists, forearms shoulders, lower back, chest, trunk, hamstrings, and groin) and, finally, by a series of golf swings with progressive increases in the range of movement and vigor.
In this study, golfers, who claimed to know what sort of warm-up reduced injury risk, were more likely to warm-up than those who did not. And the researchers conclude: "Knowledge of the injury prevention benefits of warming up appears to be a significant motivator of positive attitudes and behaviours".
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About the Author
Herb Cherwoniak has a B.SC in Kinesiology and is an avid golfer.
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: