This is such an exciting time of year for golfers – the sun is breaking through the clouds, the driving ranges are opening and the golf courses are soon to follow. The anticipation of those beautiful warm summer days out on the course creates such a buzz amongst the golfing community. For many of us, the winter can turn into a bit of a hibernation period. Apart from a bit of snow shoveling, a lot of us may have to admit that we have been rather inactive over the winter. So why not hone that giddy excitement into some valuable early season fitness preparations? Don’t let an avoidable injury disrupt your summer of golf.
All golfers know that a good swing requires a fair amount of movement through the joints of the shoulders, the spine and the leading hip. In our regular daily lives our joints just don’t move in this way, as a result, we tend to stiffen up. In addition, a good swing also requires a huge amount of coordinated muscle strength and control to guide those joints safely through the swing. During our winter hibernation period, we tend to lose some of this muscle coordination as well.
First of all we need to get those joints moving. For the shoulders, this can be achieved by stretching your arms above your head; one at a time across the top of your chest and also horizontally behind you against a wall. The most important movement for the spine is rotation and I find the best stretch for this is to lie on your back, bend your knees up with your feet flat on the floor, keeping your shoulders flat on the floor, role your knees and pelvis out to one side causing your spine to rotate, repeat this on the other side. While lying on the floor you can also stretch your hips by pulling one knee at a time up towards your chest and then also across towards the opposite shoulder. Remember to hold all these stretches for at least thirty seconds!
Obviously the best training for the muscle coordination required to guide these joints is by practicing the swing, but this needs to be done in a staged progression in order to avoid injury. Firstly, practice the swing without a club initially moving in slow motion and ensuring you are moving your shoulders, spine and hips through the entire range necessary for the swing. Gradually speed this up until you are moving at the regular speed of your swing. Next, with a lighter club practice a half swing in slow motion, gradually progressing to a three quarter swing then full swing before increasing the speed.
A daily routine of these exercises leading up to the start of your golf season will be extremely beneficial in preventing injuries occurring from your swing. However, let’s not forget one vital component to a good round of golf – endurance. Irrespective of whether you are walking or driving the course, in order to repeat a perfect swing over and over again, your muscles need endurance. A daily walk, starting at thirty minutes to enjoy the warming weather and the approaching smells of spring is a great way to get the blood flowing and the muscles working. Take care with your training at the driving range, be sure to warm up first and stick to half a bucket of balls for the first few sessions.
I hope this helps you all to have a wonderful, injury free golf season!
Nick Black is a Registered Physiotherapist at Sun City Physiotherapy Winfield. He can be contacted at the Winfield clinic (250.766.2544) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.