Anyone who plays golf whether professionally, competitively through club leagues and even the casual golfer understand the physical demands of golf. The load placed on the body in the full swing is tremendous and even practising long and short games can wreak havoc on a player’s back. How can one alleviate pain or mitigate the impact on the body?
Sport specific fitness can help all levels of golfers with their game, reducing their handicap but more importantly will help extend their golf playing abilities.
So how does being fit for golf translate to improving your game and what exactly is golf fitness? Continue Reading→
Some of your body’s joints are designed to be super mobile. And some aren’t. One of the most-common areas where golfers feel pain and succumb to injury is at the elbow joint. Why? There are many reasons, including the repetitive stress placed on your elbows from striking the ground over and over. But another big reason is that you lack mobility in the joints that surround–and protect–your less-mobile elbow joint. And when those joints don’t do their job, the elbow has to take an added amount of punishment. Your cartilage wears out. Tendons get inflamed. You feel pain. Sound familiar?
If you’re looking for help to prevent this pain from recurring, you need to improve your shoulder mobility, particularly before you play. Increasing the shoulder’s range of motion and also getting the blood flowing through the joint will allow you to swing the golf club without adding stress to your already banged-up elbows. And, as an added bonus, you’ll also be protecting the rotator-cuff muscles of your shoulder from tearing. That’s a less-common injury for golfers, but it can happen.
Your shoulders are extremely mobile, as evidenced by the amount of flexibility a pitcher, swimmer, or gymnast has in performing their sports. So before you tee it up, get those muscles nice and warm.
What is the biggest mistake that seniors make in relation to their body and golf?
Most senior golfers try to get fit through golf and very few for golf. Many senior golfers will play more golf per week then when they were in their thirties and forties however they do not invest in physically preparing their body for the increase in golf that they play. A good anecdote, is imagine driving your car 4 times further every week without giving it service or an oil change. The difference is that you can replace your car not your body.
Am I too old for this?
No, you are the right age for this program.
Our bodies get weaker and stiffer with reduced balance and posture as we get older. This means reduction in our overall function which reduces our overall ability to perform on the golf course.This aging dysfunction process may result in reduced participation in golf as you get older which can result in you being incapable of playing golf.Most senior golfers are highly successful and have worked hard throughout their lives to play good golf but are unaware of golf specific training. Many senior golfers will spend thousands of dollars on new clubs and equipment but have spent no time in, investing in the actual machine that is behind the clubs and that is your body.
Why should I do this golf fitness package when I am already working out in the gym?
A Golf specific program is unique in that it customises your golf specific exercises with your body and your swing to maximise function.Most gym programs are generic and not golf specific. Some of the general exercises are detrimental and may even harm your swing. Eg. bicep curls / sit-ups etc.
Good abdominal muscle group tone protects the spine and promotes good coil and recoil, thus producing power in the golf swing.
If you work these muscles in harmony with the lower-back muscles (latissimus dorsi and the glutei muscles), you will succeed in rotating just above the pelvis and maintain good lower-body stability in the swing. This will also result in more power being generated through the lumbar pelvic area.
The majority of golfers who play intensively have tight hip flexors. Prior to carrying out abdominal exercises, golfers should stretch their hip flexors to ensure these muscles are not used instead of the abdominals. These muscles also help to maintain good spinal angle throughout the golf swing. Dysfunction in this area will result in a reverse pivot and, possibly, a sheering or jamming of your back at impact.
Flexibility has been singled out as one of the most important components of the golf swing. Any time you have tight muscles your body responds in restricted movement. So, optimal flexibility becomes the key to freedom of movement in the swing. Any time you can enhance your flexibility, you have the potential to lengthen your golf swing and create greater club head speed. A golfer’s focus should always be on restoring normal range of motion before progressing onto more advanced strength programs.
Dynamic stretches are highly recommended prior to each round of golf. Dynamic stretches are those that keep your body in motion throughout the full range of the stretch. It should not be a time consuming process. It should only take 10 or 15 minutes of your time and should be part of a full warm up program you perform prior to play. This includes time to warm up your muscles, practice your technique and mentally prepare yourself for the round ahead.
The ultimate goal is to increase the functional range of motion around the joints affecting the golf swing. Limited range of motion contributes to improper mechanics, fatigue, and injury. Here is a comprehensive list of benefits you’ll see by increasing your flexibility through a regular stretching program.
Increases range of motion allowing you to stretch and reach further
Improves distance, power, accuracy and consistency
Reduces the incidence and severity of low back pain
Improves your power in explosive activities
Improves circulation and blood flow
Relieves muscle soreness after intense physical activity
Improves posture and muscle balance
Increases muscle coordination
Promotes a more fluid and natural golf swing
Increases neuromuscular coordination Increases level of golf performance
Allows you to feel more free through the full range of movement
Low back pain is the most common injury seen in golfers of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to touring professionals. Low back pain in golfers is
usually due to overuse, or repetitive strain, rather than due to a single incident, and often has many factors that contribute to its development. Poor posture at address, and throughout the swing, places extra stress through the discs, joints, ligaments and muscles of the lower back. Poor postural habits at work, when sitting in the car or at the computer, and while watching TV, all impact on your posture on the golf course. This poor posture places your spine in a vulnerable position and greatly increases the risk of injury.
Restrictions in other parts of the body often result in injury to the lower back. The golf swing requires rotation, and most of this rotation occurs in your upper back and hips. Tightness in these regions is very common and causes increased rotary stress on the lower back, resulting in injury. Several swing faults have also been identified as causes of low back pain in golfers. Often these swing faults are due to physical restrictions that cause you to swing in a certain way, which can result in injury to the lower back.
For a thorough assessment of your low back pain, including a comprehensive assessment of the relationship between your golf swing and your body, consult a Golf Specific Physiotherapist.
Builders take great time and care to ensure a building’s foundations are stable and correct, otherwise the building can’t be developed correctly. So it is with a golf swing. You can identify a good golfer by the way they stand to the ball, likewise a golfer with poor posture is identified as one who limits their potential.
The Deep stabilising muscles of the trunk form a muscular cylinder surrounding the lumbar spine and pelvis. The deep stabilisers help control the position and movement of the trunk. The mover muscles are more superficial, they are the muscles you use to move your body.
The Deep Stabiliser muscles:
Work at low intensity for long periods of time
Generate tension to support and stabilise rather than move the body
Contract before you move to support the body’s position
Turn on in a similar way no matter what way you are moving
Keep the spine and pelvis optimally aligned to maintain a neutral spine or ‘good posture’ position
The Mover muscles:
Work at high intensity for short periods of time
Generate force to move the body and change its position
Contract at the time of movement to cause the movement
Move the trunk and limbs
Work differently depending on what movement you are doing
The deep stabiliser muscles only work at about 5% of their maximal contraction, but stay on for long periods of time. As they contract, the stabilisers don’t move your body much, if at all. They tend to apply tension and support structures rather than move your body.
When you think of moving, the deep stabilisers contract before any of the muscles that actually cause the movement. This pre-contraction prepares your body for the movement by supporting and stabilising the trunk to provide a stable base for movement.
A stable base makes for mechanically efficient movement or static postures. Imagine a crane being positioned on a solid concrete slab versus a sandy beach. The crane on the concrete slab is much more easily controlled by the driver who can be more accurate as the crane picks up and sets down objects. The crane on the beach will be much less accurate and take more effort getting the objects placed exactly where it wants them. The deep stabilising muscles of the body provide the stable base for the mover muscles to move the trunk and limbs.
The mover muscles are the ones which move your body. The mover muscles generate a lot of force and fatigue quickly. They turn on and off rather than staying on like the stabiliser muscles. You can easily work your mover muscles by moving your body against resistance such as the quads, hamstrings or biceps. In the trunk the mover muscles include the rectus abdominis (the six pack) and the obliques. These are the muscles you work with exercises such as sit ups or crunches.
The Deep Stabiliser muscles:
Begin to turn off and on rather than staying on
Contract after you move and so can’t support the body’s position as effectively
Are less able to keep the spine and pelvis optimally aligned to maintain a neutral spine or ‘good posture’ position
The Mover muscles:
Work at high intensity for longer periods of time to compensate for poor deep stabiliser muscles
The deep stabilisers change the way they work when pain is present. They no longer contract before you move to prepare or stabilise the trunk, they react to the movement. This can lead to injury. The movement muscles try and compensate. As mover muscles, they contract strongly and start to move the body, other muscles then pull on to counteract this movement. The body is working much harder to stabilise and using much more muscle activity than it needs to. This results in tight areas of the body which feel great when massaged out, but the tightness returns again. If your back pain behaves this way chances are you have trouble controlling your deep stabilisers and the pain arises from the compensatory strategies of the mover muscles.
A number of screening tests can indicate poor control of the core. There are a couple of quick tests you can do at home. If any of these tests give you pain, do not continue any further testing and see an appropriate health professional.
The active straight leg raise
Lie on your back and lift one heel about 10cm off the ground with your knee straight. Compare how difficult this feels compared with the other side. If one side is harder than the other, or both sides are difficult, you could have some issues with control of your core.