The sun is out, the grass is green, the birds are chirping, and you’re busy carefully packing your golf bag. That’s right – with the end of the Ontario stay-at home order in sight the time has come to get back out on the green and get teeing, putting, and swinging. Golf season is always an exciting time – it means you’re back outside, getting some fresh air, and playing a sport you genuinely love. In addition, 2020 was a tough year… it’s time to let off some steam. Before you get carried away, though, I want to run through some stretches and tips you can implement to make this golfing season one of your best, if not the best. As with every sport, there are ways to get into the swing of things, so to speak, and when it comes to golf things are no different. Ready to hear it all? Great.
If you’re a sprinter you’d never consider running without a warm up. Right? If you’re a swimmer, you’d never go for gold without breezing through a breadth or two, surely? So, because you’re a golfer, you’d never consider an 18-hole day without properly warming up, would you? I didn’t think so. Just to jog your memory, though, here are a few exercise you can do prior to – and after – teeing off that may just improve your game!
- Stretch down to your toes – make sure you feel the stretch at the back of your legs and into your back. Keep your back straight.
- Arm stretches – keep your arms straight and stretch them across your chest so as to feel the stretch running down the arm.
- Stretch your arm across the opposite shoulder so as to feel the stretch in the shoulder.
- Make sure you bend your hips to the side and back and forth so as to lubricate the muscles in that area. Bend down and stretch both arms toward a single leg in order to stretch the hip muscles.
- Wrist stretch – make sure to rotate your wrists and stretch them out prior to your golf game.
Repeat the stretches above, but add the following:
- Butterfly stretch – sitting down, place the heels of your feet together, thereby bending at your knees and forming a diamond shape. Slowly lean forward while keeping your back straight.
- Child’s pose – to stretch your back, kneel on your knees and sit down on the balls of your feet, thereby tucking in your legs under your thigh muscles. Keep your back straight, stretch your arms outright, and place your forehead on the floor. Feel the stretch in your back.
Though you don’t pick up weights out on the course, adding strength training to your daily routine will greatly boost your golfing performance. Stronger muscles mean more control and less chance of injury! Why not add a few body weight exercises to your morning routine – lunges, pushups, etc. Try Pilates and yoga for some core strength, and add some cycling into your life for an extra lower body strength boost!
Alright, warm up and warm down done, but now what? As you may or may not know, golf can take its toll on your back, hips, and shoulders. Unfortunately, pain strikes just before you get your hole-in-one… or so I’ve heard. So, how can you avoid that irritating distraction? Well, how about trying the following:
- Watch your swing. I know you’re a great golfer, but even the best can still improve, right? Make sure your arms, back, hips, and shoulders are placed in an appropriate position, that is, so that your posture is such that you have a powerful swing with minimal to no negative impact on your body. If you’re unsure of what this looks like, why not visit a physiotherapist for advice and techniques to improve your form? I guarantee this will not only alleviate existing pain, but will give you the tools to avoid pain the future as well as improve your game!
- Stay hydrated – if anything, not drinking enough water will only slow you down out there. Make sure you stay hydrated on the course – quite apart from the heat, physical activity depletes the fluid stores in your body, thereby opening the door for achy muscles and potential injury. Staying hydrated fuels your muscles and joints and allows for smooth, pain free, and hopefully great swings and puts!
- Watch how you carry your bag. Listen, we were all 20 once… but, carrying your golf bag the way the Hulk does just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Make sure you watch where you place the weight of your bag – distribute it evenly, or better yet, get some wheels and pull it. If you have grandchildren… well, a day out with grandad/grandma could be fun!
- Take it slow… the holes aren’t going anywhere. I’m sure you know that taking your time before a swing is important. What’s just as important is taking your time to set up for the next one. There is no need to rush – be deliberate in the way you walk, set up, bend down, and swing. Make sure your movements are calculated and that you practice proper form at all times. Again, if you’re unsure about what this looks like, I urge you contact a physiotherapist for more information and help.
At the end of the day, golf is a game of grace and composure – so, every more you make ought to imitate that sentiment. Injuries in golf are just as common as injuries found in jogging or cycling: they happen more often than you think and can debilitate you for longer than you’d imagine. The great thing about golf, though, is that an improvement in form can both prevent injury AND boost your game. In lieu of this, I encourage you to reach out to a physiotherapist this season: for tips, help, pain relief, form and posture correction, and tools you can apply both at home and on the course, physiotherapy really should be your first port of call.
Let 2021 be the year your golfing game takes off; from putting to swinging, make sure you make the most of every movement as you make your way around the green. I hope the tips in this post have encouraged you to put effort into every game whilst also giving you the motivation to prepare properly, make sure your technique, posture and form are correct, and to make preparations for avoiding injury. For more information, feel free to contact us directly. Until then – here’s hoping you get that birdie you’ve always wanted!