Spring is right around the corner and it is time to start thinking about dusting off your clubs. Golfers of all levels need to keep in mind that swinging a golf club involves a complex sequence of movements. The effort and power you put into your golf swing place a lot of stress on your body. According to the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), there is an infinite number of ways to swing a club, but there is one efficient way for all golfers to swing a club – and that way is based on what they can physically do. There may be several reasons why you can’t swing a club, perhaps you have never had lessons, or you may be golfing with poor fitting equipment, or more commonly, you may have physical limitations affecting your swing. A golf specific fitness evaluation and subsequent golf conditioning program can help you unlock your most efficient swing.
Factors such as strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, mobility, stability, and posture all influence the body's mechanics and ability to move properly through the swing pattern. If there are any limitations with those factors the risk of injury or re-injury increases and there will likely be a decrease in efficiency of the swing and a higher occurrence of swing faults such as over the top, sway, or loss of posture.
Unconditioned muscles are weak and potentially inflexible causing them to be more prone to injury (sprains, strains, etc). This is especially true for the structures of the back, due to the forward flexion, rotational, and extension components that occur during your swing. A golf-specific conditioning program including strength training, flexibility training, and cardiovascular conditioning is recommended to lower the risk of injury and improve performance by removing physical
limitations. To incorporate this type of program into your daily schedule an initial time commitment of 20-30 minutes, three times per week is a great start.
There are numerous benefits to improving your physical fitness in the off-season and pre-season. Consider the benefits of strength training golf specific muscles. Increasing the strength of your leg, glute, and hip muscles aid in producing the power and stability for the initial stage of your swing. Strong, stable core muscles (abdominals & back) transfer power from your legs to your torso to speed up your swing, and produce the swinging/rotation action. Finally, strong upper extremity muscles (rotator cuff, biceps, triceps, upper back) help to establish the control and accuracy of your club head.
Flexibility & Mobility training is a very important component to improving your golf swing and decreasing the risk of injury. A flexibility program should focus on overall body mobility and stretching. A decrease in mobility can lead to loss of power in the swing and muscle imbalances. Specific areas to target include the hips, hamstrings, upper and lower back, shoulders and chest. A foam roller is a great tool for preparing the muscles for your strength workout or before your golf game, as are other tools & techniques including stability balls, resistance bands, and yoga-based movements. Flexibility exercises should follow a warm-up, and be included in the cool-down phase of your conditioning program.
Swinging a club is an intense movement followed by extended periods of rest before the next swing. Improved cardiovascular conditioning will enable you to maintain your energy levels and stay focused for 18 holes. Increased cardiovascular fitness will decrease your risk of early fatigue and burn out on the back nine. The key to maintaining your commitment to a conditioning program is to pick something you will enjoy. Brisk walking, biking, and playing squash are all great examples of cardiovascular activities. To maximize your time and your cardiovascular conditioning try adding high-intensity intervals or sprint interval training throughout your workout.
Incorporating a golf performance assessment and applying all of these components into a golf conditioning program will not only decrease your risk of injury and help improve your golf game, but will also help keep you motivated and mentally prepared while you wait for your next tee time!
Tips for Physical Conditioning:
Before you start a conditioning program, assess your current level of fitness.
Consult with your family doctor, or seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional.
Book a golf specific performance assessment to find out your physical limitations.
Write down your goals and make a commitment to begin or maintain a golf-specific conditioning program to correct your physical limitations.
Take advantage of indoor golf facilities to practice your skills.
Use the winter months to refine your swing. Seek training from a golf professional.
Include practice swings into your weekly conditioning program.
As the saying goes ‘drive for show, putt for dough.’ Use the off-season to become a great putter indoors. Work on your stroke, accuracy, and speed.
Improve your mental game. Visualize your swing.
Don’t let minor injuries become major injuries. Pain is a warning system to alert you to developing problems. Get help from your local medical professional.
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