Swing Into Golf
Due to the nature of golf with its twisting motions and rapid follow-through, golf is hardest on the low back, mid back and shoulders. Eight out of ten golfers will suffer back problems at some point in their golfing career.
Golf also causes physical problems because it’s both a seasonal and a weekend activity. Most of us only play once the weather warms up and winter-weakened muscles are asked to jump into 18 holes. Plus we perform sedentary deskwork during the week combined with stressful lifestyle factors and poor postures, and then over-do it on the weekends…and wonder why we’re sore on Monday morning.
Many of us don’t warm up properly. As we age, we’re not as supple and our muscles and aren’t as elastic. We also heal slower and it takes longer to recover. This is why stretching becomes more important as we get older.
Staying Injury-Free on the Golf Course
- Warm up properly – Take a brisk walk to loosen muscles and get your heart rate up. Incorporate stretching into your daily activities. For example, when you pop the trunk to get your clubs, put a foot up on the bumper to stretch your hamstrings. Remember to keep moving and stretching while on the course – especially while waiting for others to take their turn.
- Watch your equipment:
- Too short or too long clubs can increase strain on your body.
- Proper footwear, including good arch support is important since you will be on your feet for several hours. Faulty biomechanics with your feet (for example a fallen arch) can translate higher up and initiate problems with you knees, hips, and low back.
- Use a pull cart to carry your clubs and actually push it, which gives less rotation on your spine, or get a bag with two shoulder straps to balance you out…better yet, get a caddy!
- Take a lesson once or twice a season to review your swing with a professional. Little changes show up from time to time and may increase your score and put added strain on your body.
- Take swings in both directions: Every so often, swing the opposite direction (just for practice, or to throw your opponent off). Too many people go the entire 18 holes only swinging one way. Going the opposite way gives your muscles a chance to stretch on the other side of your body.
- Stretch! Concentrate your stretching and strengthening exercises in the pre- season on key muscle groups for golf:
- Hamstrings (backs of legs) which get strained from bending over to pick up the ball or tee)
- Low back muscles
- Shoulder/chest muscles – involved with the swing and follow-through
Remember that mild stiffness after a round of golf is common and should disappear within 48 hours. Current patients who golf are encouraged to get checked pre-season and periodically along the way to ensure their spines are moving properly and muscle groups are well balanced. In the long run, this can mean preventing injuries and better golf scores!
Should you have any questions about this topic or want specific advice on stretching, please contact any of our professionals.