With the warmer weather approaching, many avid golfers are itching to get to the driving range and golf courses. Doug Ford announced last week that golf courses can begin preparing for the season. However, golf is going to look a little different this season because of COVID-19. Most clubs have been collaborating in order to brainstorm ways to ensure that courses open safely. Physical distancing must still be upheld at all times, and ball washers, benches, and bunker rakes will be removed. There will be fewer tee off times and longer intervals between groups. Furthermore, don’t expect to kick back and enjoy a bite to eat or a drink afterwards, as dining rooms and clubhouses will initially remain closed. Despite all these changes, many are still looking forward to dusting off their clubs. What can you start doing now, while you are isolated at home in order to be ready for your first round?
The golf swing involves powerful muscle contractions coming from multiple body parts, with a lot of stress being generated on certain muscles, joints and ligaments. 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. The exercise below 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.
Flexibility is also a key component, especially in the hips, shoulders and trunk in order to achieve a full range of motion from the back swing to the follow through. Below you will find a great exercise to 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.
Another fitness component that is often overlooked in golf is cardiovascular fitness. Walking the average golf course is equivalent to walking 10 km. Once you add in a few fairway hills, sand bunkers and carrying or pulling your clubs, the peak heart rate for most golfers can get as high as 80% of the maximum heart rate value. While practicing social distancing, take the opportunity to go for a walk. Start with 15 minutes and gradually increase the time and difficulty (add hills, etc.).
The last fitness component essential for golf is balance. Poor balance will lead to faulty swing mechanics and compensatory patterns. The exercise below is a great exercise to work on overall balance and stability.
Instructions: Stand on one leg, keeping the hips leveled. Reach forward as far as you can while keeping your balance (you can bend the support knee slightly). Come back to the center and without putting your foot down on the ground, reach out to the side as far as you can. Come back to the center and without putting your foot down on the ground, reach back and across to the opposite side as far as you can. Come back to the center and repeat the sequence.
While you’re home you can also take the opportunity to work on your short game. You can easily set up targets in your backyard, such as hula hoops, and practice trying to chip the ball, and have it land in the hoop. You can also work on your putting stroke whether it be on carpet or a fancy indoor putting green.
Don’t wait until injury prevents you from swinging a club. Get assessed now, before the season starts, to find out how to prevent injuries, get stronger and bring your golf game to the next level. While our clinic is closed, we are still open for virtual telerehab appointments. During your appointment, a physical assessment will 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 golf specific exercises that will be taught to you.
If you want more information on how to treat your current golf injury or develop a golf specific training program to reduce the risk of injury this season, your Sheddon Physiotherapist can get you started. Call us at (905) 849-4576 or visit us at our website Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic.