Most people don’t consider golf a “real” sport, just a recreational activity and I used to believe the same way until I actually played the game and took a coaching of golf class at UGA. After playing I was sore in muscles that haven’t ever been worked that way. I read an article recently in the magazine Personal Fitness Professional and it mentioned 3 interesting things about golf:
1. Amateur golfers achieve 90% of peak muscle activity when executing a full swing.
2. Golf requires a player to accelerate a weighted object (club) to over 100mph and then quickly decelerate it.
3. The forces accumulated while driving a golf ball have been shown to be significant enough to tear spinal ligaments and the fibers of the spinal discs.
So even though golf is not a major cardiovascular workout, you still have to be in good physical condition to play without hurting yourself and to play and be successful at the game.
Just like any other sport, balance, stability and posture are very important to decrease your risk of injury and to get the best performance. Ball flight is primarily controlled by five factors: club face alignment, swing path, angle of attack, hitting the sweet spot and clubhead speed. Flexibility, static and dynamic postural stability and muscle strength and power control 80% of the ball flight factors.
Regarding flexibility, during the backswing, if a golfer does not have adequate rotation in the trunk to achieve the desire club height, there will be excessive movement in other joints in the body like the shoulders which overtime will cause tears in the rotator cuff. Postural stability is either static or dynamic. Static stability is how someone holds himself up against gravity while standing still. An example would be when a golfer addresses the ball. Dynamic stability is when a joint maintains proper alignment with other related joints regardless of where or how fast a joint is moving like during the actual swing of the club.
Some great stability exercises can be performed on a stability ball. Most local gyms have the balls or you can purchase one for yourself at any sports store, Wal-Mart or Target. Listed below are two easy exercises to do on the ball.
1. Lie your back on the ball and roll forward until only your upper back is on the ball, your feet are on the floor and your hips and buttocks are lifted up like a bridge. Once you are stable then roll and rotate your upper body from one shoulder to the other. You can also add a broomstick and hold it across your chest with both arms straight out to the side.
2. Face the ball and sit on your knees, hold your hands together and put your fists on the ball with your arms bent, squeeze your abs and roll the ball forward until your arms are almost straight.
Once flexibility and stability are addressed and worked on then you can start and strength and power workout. This includes exercises such as step-ups, lunges, standing cable pushes, presses, and woodchops and deadlifts off blocks. Power refers to the amount of work done over a period of time or how quickly a load is moved over a given distance. Power exercises are performed at a faster speed than strength exercises. Medicine ball training are good exercises to improve power.
For more information and for more exercises you can go to www.chekinstitute.com and order the Golf Biomechanic’s Manual written by Paul Chek or you can find a certified trainer who knows how to train golfers.
Mary Wannall is the owner of Real Life Fitness.
She can be reached at 770-382-4653.