Warmer temperatures are here! For many people, this means it is time to dust off the golf clubs, call your buddies, and hit the links! A lifelong sport, golf offers players a great low impact way to exercise and stay active as we get older, especially if we forgo the cart and walk the course. With the following tips, not only can we help to prevent injuries, but also, to improve our overall golf game.
As we age, the prevalence of injuries increases due to a number of factors. These factors include skeletal changes (arthritis, osteoporosis), muscular changes (weakness), sensory changes (decreased visual acuity, balance deficits), and cardiopulmonary changes (decreased endurance). These physiological changes can lead to changes in our swing technique. This could potentially place undue stress on different muscles in various ways leading to fatigue and overuse injuries.
We can be proactive in preventing injuries by focusing on three areas:
1) Always performing a sufficient warm up
2) Improving our flexibility through dynamic and static stretches
3) Strengthening, beginning with our “core” muscles
Warming-up before hitting the golf course or driving range. Warming up can include activities such as brisk walking, calisthenics or even jogging in place. These activities will elevate the heart rate, increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, and allow you to get the maximum benefit from stretching.
Improving flexibility can be performed through dynamic and static stretching.
Dynamic stretching (stretching as you are moving) is preferred before beginning an activity. Check out this link for some great golf-specific dynamic stretches.
Static stretching (long holds in a stretched position) is more beneficial after the activity is completed. Below are a few examples of static stretches which will foster healthy muscles post-18 holes:
Strength training programs go a long way in reducing injuries in addition to improving strength and power. Core strengthening is critical as the trunk muscles are active in all parts of the golf swing. Poor trunk muscle or core endurance is highly correlated to the incidence of low back injury. Here are a few Core Strengthening exercises to have on your radar:
Seeing a Physical Therapist
If pain is significantly affecting your golf game, a visit to a physical therapist can help. Due to Direct Access a physician’s referral is not required with most insurances. Through a thorough evaluation, an individualized program can be created to address a golfer’s specific strength and flexibility deficits. This will help you get back on the greens quickly and pain-free!