Get on par (or under) with your golf game!

With the warm weather on its way, golfers are starting to dust off their clubs and head to the practice range or golf course to kick off the season. Although golf is usually perceived as a fairly low impact, leisurely activity, it has been estimated that every year roughly 40% of recreational golfers sustain an injury. Despite the high prevalence of golf injuries, many are preventable, with golf specific conditioning early in the season.

The golf swing requires adequate range of motion across many joints, combined with coordinated and powerful muscle contractions. Research has shown that improved overall fitness correlates with lower golf scores and less risk of injury. Proper conditioning for golf includes a variety of factors, such as the strengthening of particular muscle groups for a powerful swing, including the rotator cuff, scapular stabilizers and core musculature. Flexibility and mobility are also key components, especially in the hips, shoulders and trunk in order to achieve full and stable range of motion from the back swing to the follow through. The last fitness component essential for golf is balance. Poor balance will lead to faulty swing mechanics and compensatory patterns. Spending some time at the beginning of the golf season focusing on fitness and conditioning can add yards to your swing and help you play pain-free throughout the season.

Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinics physiotherapist, Robin Valadares, is currently completing his Level 2 Golf Specific Rehabilitation course taught by the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI). Robin is an avid golfer, and his love for the sport made him want to learn how to help golfers get stronger and play their best golf. TPI is the world’s leader in golf fitness, development and performance, with most of the top golfers in the world being advised/treated by TPI certified experts.

Below, Robin demonstrates some key exercises every golfer should include in their fitness routine.

Open Book:

Benefits: This exercise helps develop better flexibility in your chest muscles, thoracic spine, rib cage, shoulders and lower back.

Instructions: Lie on your side with your top knee bent at around 90 degrees supported on a medicine ball (or something of equal height to keep the pelvis level).  Place the arms out in front of you at shoulder level with the palms facing each other. Slowly lift your top arm up opening up your chest as you rotate the trunk, try to keep both shoulders on the ground, and your knee in contact with the ball, as you look over your top shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on each side 3 times.

Strengthening #1:

Benefits: This exercise helps develop trunk and lower body stability, upper body strength, core strength and rotary mobility.

Instructions: Attach a theraband, cable or tube to a low setting. While in a half kneeling position, hold hips directly under the trunk and keep shoulders back while holding the theraband. Engage your core before initiating any movement. Keep the lower body stable and rotate bringing the theraband across your body and ending with arms held over the shoulder. This exercise can be made more difficult by increasing the resistance, distance away from wall, or adding an unstable surface under the knees. Repeat 10 times per side for 3 sets.

Strengthening #2:

Benefits: This exercise helps develop trunk and lower body stability, upper body strength, core strength and rotary mobility.

Instructions: Loop a theraband around your arms. Start in a proper golf address position, engage your core and bring your arms slightly apart so there is tension on the theraband. Raise your arms into a half backswing slowly and follow through into a downswing. Repeat 10 times per side and 3 sets.

Don’t wait until injury prevents you from swinging a club. Get assessed while the season is  still young in order to find out how to prevent injuries, get stronger and bring your golf game to the next level. During your initial assessment, a detailed history of current and previous injuries will be addressed, as well as your golf performance goals. A physical assessment will also be completed in order to identify any areas of weakness or potential limitations. From this assessment, a plan will be put in place addressing any areas needing improvement, which is usually achieved through physiotherapy and golf specific exercises that will be taught to you.

Robin Valadares, Jason Kobrick and Erin Shapcott have all completed golf specific rehabilitation courses and can help answer any questions you may have.