The Smart Golfer

The Smart Golfer…how to help your body help you keep it on the cut stuff!

Golf, in all its glory and challenges, is a fantastic way to keep your body strong, supple, and stable. However, as we age, there is a natural and (almost) inevitable decline in our physical capacity. This can, if left unchecked, lead to a loss of function, independence and most critically…golfing prowess!

So, this blog presents and explains five simple exercises that can assist in maintaining and improving key musculoskeletal components required for golf. Each exercise is designed with an aspect of golf in mind and will also assist in general conditioning and wellbeing.

1. Thoracic Extension in Sitting

The thoracic, or middle back, is the stiffest portion of the spine. As such any loss of movement in this region can have significant side effects. A lot of golf-based activity involves the thoracic spine being held in a flexed or forward position. We often lose the ability to move our thoracic spine in the opposite direction, known as extension. This can lead to discomfort and will adversely affect shoulder movement and function. Maintaining thoracic extension will allow a more complete backswing and ensure shoulder rotation is not impaired.

To perform this stretch:

  • Sit upright in a chair with a back support.
  • Clasp your hands together and raise both hands towards the ceiling whilst simultaneously leaning backwards over the back support of the chair. Your palms should face in towards one another.
  • Hold this position.
  • Return to the start position and repeat.

2. Lumbar Rotation in Crook Lie

Smooth, unimpeded lumbar (lower back) rotation is essential for an effective golf swing, especially with drivers and long irons. Any reduction in lumbar range will make it difficult at both ends of your swing. This gentle exercise has the added benefit of also helping to lengthen the hip and gluteal muscles. The fact it is performed lying down also assists to unload the spine and intervertebral discs.

To perform this stretch:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Extend your arms out to the sides and always keep your shoulders on the floor.
  • Keeping your knees together, drop them down to one side, rotating your torso.
  • Return to the starting position and allow your knees to fall to the opposite side. Only drop your knees as far as you can go comfortably.

3. Scaption

The shoulder joint is the most flexible in the body. The flipside of this is it is also the most unstable! As such it requires the dynamic interplay of several rotator cuff muscles to maintain its integrity. Age-related strength loss in these muscles can lead to pain, as well as your ability to generate clubhead speed. This simple exercise focuses on the most commonly effected muscle, the supraspinatus. Supraspinatus is vital for overhead activities and reaching away from the body…such as at the 19th!

To perform this exercise:

  • Stand with your legs hip width apart, and your knees slightly bent.
  • Make sure your shoulder is relaxed.
  • Keeping your elbow straight, lift your arm diagonally out to your side at a 45-degree angle to your body. Ensure you are leading with your thumb. Once you reach shoulder height, pause for a count of 2, and slowly lower. Ensure you do not hunch your shoulder or lean your body as you do this.
  • Start this exercise without a weight. Once you can perform 20 repetitions, you can start with a light weight, such as a soup can.

4. Standing Hip Abduction

Strong hips allow us to have a stable base when swinging a golf club. They also provide balance and are required to work overextended periods when we walk the course. So, it makes sense to ensure the largest muscles in the body, the Gluteus Maximus, are in good condition.

To perform this exercise:

  • Stand straight, holding a chair or table for balance.
  • Keeping your leg straight, slowly move it out to the side. Pause and hold this position for a count of 2.
  • Control the leg as you bring it back in to the starting position, and then repeat the movement.
  • Make sure you do not lean your body or hitch your hip up as you move your leg.
  • Aim for 20 repetitions on each side, with good control and quality.

5. Wrist Extensor Strengthening

The forearm muscles on the outside of your elbow are responsible for gripping. Any issues with these muscles can lead to pain and decreased grip strength. Hence it is essential to keep them long, supple, and strong.

To perform this exercise:

  • Start in a seated position. Grasp a soup can or weight in your hand with the palm facing down and rest that elbow on a table or your knee.
  • Start with your wrist in a flexed/bent position then lift the wrist up. Pause for a count of 2.
  • Control the movement as you slowly lower the hand back down to the flexed/bent position. It is important to always keep your forearm in contact with the supportive surface.
  • Aim for 20 repetitions on each side, with good control and quality. Once you can consistently achieve this, you may wish to increase the weight used.

So, try and add in these simple but effective exercises to your routine. Once a week will ensure you don’t go backwards, but 2 to 3 times is necessary to improve and maximise your musculoskeletal potential.

If you have any questions, want some help addressing a lingering issue, or just want more advice and guidance on your musculoskeletal health, please contact us at www.glenelg.physio

Russell Turbill

Physiotherapist

Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy)

Diploma of Mechanical Diagnosis and Theory (McKenzie Institute)

Book an appointment with Russell here.