The golf season is here and many of us are ready to hit the links and start golfing. We all want to stay healthy and play the best that we can. Five areas determine how well a golfer can play:
- Natural talent - the athletic ability and talent we are born with
- Skill - which can be improved through working with a pro and practicing
- Equipment - which can add accuracy and distance
- Mental game - such as course management and maintaining composure while playing
- Physical preparation - addressing your body’s physical characteristics through exercise and stretching to improve your game
Many golfers spend considerable time and effort on practicing, taking lessons, and buying the best equipment. But, many golfers never address their most important piece of equipment, their body. Golf requires specific physical conditioning like any other sport.
The ideal golf swing requires flexibility, strength, balance and endurance. Many golfers neglect some of these critical components when attempting to improve their game. If a golfer has weaknesses in any of these areas they may make compensations in their swing, causing inconsistency or increased physical stresses on their body. These stresses can lead to pain and injury if they continue.
A regular exercise routine can address most of these strength, balance, and flexibility issues. Strength is important to control the club, maintain proper postures, and generate power. The key areas of strength to work on are core strength including lower abdominals and back muscles, scapular muscle strength, rotator cuff strength, and wrist and grip strength. Flexibility is important to allow proper set up posture and to maximize your ability to turn. Areas that frequently cause problems are hip rotation, thoracic spine extension and rotation, neck rotation, and shoulder flexibility. Balance is important to allow a full transition of weight throughout the swing. With poor balance power is lost or severe swing compensations are made. Endurance is important to allow a golfer to play a full round. Golfers with poor endurance will notice their play deteriorating toward the end of their round.
A physical therapist trained in proper golf technique can evaluate your body for the physical components of a proper golf swing. From this evaluation an individualized program can be developed to improve your game and keep you healthier.