“Grip it and rip it.” That’s the approach many golfers take with their game, and more often than not, it ends up costing more than a few strokes—it often results in injury.
Performing a golf swing takes a good deal of flexibility. Swinging a club 80 to 100 times during a round (not including range time and practice swings) puts tremendous stress on the body. Shoulder pain, elbow pain, lower back pain and even knee pain are common among golfers.
The average weekend golfer does not take the time to practice his or her game, much less take the necessary steps to avoid injury. Here are a few things you can do to avoid injury and enjoy more time on the course:
Back to basics. Spend ten to fifteen minutes stretching before every round and practice session. Also, make sure to incorporate stretching into your regular workout routine. It sounds simple enough, but not taking the time to stretch properly can lead to muscle strains, and all-around flexibility will help you pull off a better golf swing.
Get in the swim of things. Swimming laps is great for golfers because it builds up the muscles around the arm and leg joints. Golf injuries generally occur due to frequency of motion rather than the motion itself. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can prepare the body for moderate-impact sports like golf. The repetitive motion in the low gravity of water builds up tissue around the joints and promotes flexibility.
Incline time. Your local gym’s treadmill is a great tool for preventing injury. Walking at an incline and gradually increasing the steepness of the gradient allows your body to train in a controlled manner. The steady and controlled incline walking strengthens hamstrings, calf muscles and knee joints. Make it a part of your exercise routine, and you should experience less fatigue toward the end of rounds.
Stand tall. We can’t see our own golf stance. The way we set up, how we stand, and leg, hip, back and arm position are all important to a good golf swing. Bad posture can not only ruin your swing, it can lead to injury. Have a local golf professional work with you to ensure proper set up and posture at address and throughout your swing.
Get to the core of the issue. Exercise programs like yoga and Pilates are excellent for preventing injury on the course. Lower back issues are common among golfers, and yoga and Pilates are great for strengthening core and back muscles. They also improve overall flexibility and balance.
The appeal of golf often hides the sport’s risk of injury. The repetitive motion of the golf swing puts every golfer at risk, no matter their skill level. The game still requires a player to be in good physical shape. Paying close attention to your golf fitness will not only help you avoid potential injuries, it will make your next round, and many more to come, that much more enjoyable.