Getting Ready for the Golf CourseFebruary 03, 2016
For those who love to play golf, you might spend the winter months just waiting for the snow to melt. However, even when you can’t be out on the course, you can be preparing your body for a successful season. Improving your game doesn’t always mean practicing your swing. Golf requires muscle power, endurance, and flexibility. You can improve your physical abilities to help avoid injuries and ensure that you perform your best throughout the game. With advice from NEBH athletic trainer and Level 2 Fitness Certified Titleist Performance Institute golf expert Bryan Truscott, LATC, CSCS, you can start the season off strong even before the grass reappears.
Warm Up: Stretches to do in the gym and before you play
A good warm up is important for all athletes. A warm-up will increase your flexibility and range of motion, both of which are important to your swing. It can also help you avoid overuse injuries, like rotator cuff tendinitis or lower back pain. These dynamic stretches are great to do before you work out and before you step on the course.
- Knee hugs: Start by standing with your back straight, arms relaxed at your sides. Lift up your right leg and squat slightly on the left. Staying in the slight squat position on your left leg, grab just below your knee on your right leg and hug it as close to your chest as possible for 2 seconds. Repeating this exercise 6 times on each leg will help you maintain your balance and posture throughout your swing.
- Shoulder stretch with club: Keeping one hand on each end of the club, hold the club in front of you parallel to your body. Rotate your shoulders so that you move the club in an arch over your head and as far behind you as you can stretch for 5 seconds. Bring the club back over your head and then bend forward at your waist trying to reach your toes and hold this for 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise 5-10 times before you play to warm up your shoulder muscles. If you’re at the gym and don’t have a club, try warming up your shoulders with arm circles.
- Torso turn: Start in a golf stance, with your knees slightly bent and your hips in a fixed position. Keeping your arms crossed across your chest, turn your torso back and forth, imitating the motion you use in your swing. Rotate about 10 times in each direction. Then, bend forward to about your six iron set up, and repeat your trunk rotations.
Strengthening your muscles, particularly your core, will help you add power and distance to your swing. A strong core will also help protect your lower back from injury, and allow you to work on building strength and power in your legs and shoulders. In the months leading up to your golf season, work on these exercises. You’ll be able to focus on your technique once the golf season starts if you feel confident in your core strength.
- Side plank: Lie on your side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder. Tightening your abs, lift up your hips so that your body makes a straight line from your head to your feet. Work up to holding the plank for 30 seconds on each side to strengthen your hips and abs. The side plank can be done with your knees on the ground if you don’t have the strength to lift from your feet.
- Superman: Lie on your stomach with your arms above your head. Contract your abs, lower back muscles, and glutes so that your upper and lower body lift 6-12 inches off the ground, with only your stomach touching the floor. Pull your arms back to shoulder height by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Repeat for 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. This exercise will strengthen your core and your lower back muscles.
- Glute bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat against the ground. Squeeze your glutes and lift your back until only your shoulders and head are on the ground. Complete 4 sets of 12 repetitions to add power to your drive.
Golf is a long game, and it requires stamina to maintain the same power and form at the end of a game that you started with at the beginning. Working on aerobic exercises as part of your pre-season training will strengthen your muscles and create the stamina you need to succeed. Perform a cardio activity for 20-45 minutes at least 3 times per week to see results in your game. Walking, running, and biking are all great aerobic exercises to build endurance. To boost your training, try interval training. This type of conditioning involves alternating bouts of higher intensity work (10-60 sec) followed by easier submaximal recovery work (15-90 sec). You can start with 1 minute total time of high intensity activity (1-6 rounds). Then 5 minutes of slow recovery work. Studies have shown that interval training is not only safe for people, but you may get equal or better results while spending less time on your workouts!
Acquiring the newest equipment and practicing your technique will only help your game if your muscles are strong enough so that you can maintain proper form for every shot. Start working on these exercises over the winter and you’ll be ready to play your best game of golf in the spring!