Bust the rust: Golf exercises for the spring thaw
Golfers looking for a way to improve their game during the winter season should consider starting a winter conditioning program.
An exercise program that incorporates a healthy dose of low back flexibility and strengthening is a great way to get "golf ready" for the spring and summer. Even if you are exercising regularly, a few additional exercises for core flexibility and strength might pay dividends on the golf course come spring. Begin with some simple stretches to address the muscles that help with hip rotation and generate most of the power used in the golf swing.
The Piriformis stretch (also known as the figure-4 stretch) is one example. A quick online search will provide examples of this stretch. There will by many variations, so feel free to experiment with several and find the one or ones that you like and with which you are the most comfortable.
Stretching may be slightly uncomfortable at first, but should not be painful. If you have pain, you may be “over stretching,” or that particular position may not be good for you.
A quick and dynamic way to address the hamstrings and calf muscles is an exercise called the inch worm. From a push-up position, walk the feet towards your hands keeping your knees slightly bent if necessary. Once you can go no further, hold that position and drive your heels towards the floor for five counts. Then walk the hands back out to the push up position and repeat. This is a difficult move at first, so short sessions of 2-3 reps may be all you can do. If you try these a couple of times a day your tolerance will increase and so will your flexibility. This is also a good core exercise.
As we age, low back health will become an important issue for many of us and most will experience low back pain that may even require some medical intervention. The game of golf can be very stressful on the back and keeping the muscles that control rotation of the hips and back healthy and strong should be part of any back to golf program.
Functional training exercises are exercises that work the whole body. Most gyms have cable columns with pulley systems on each end with stack weights for resistance and various attachments. These are great machines for training the rotational muscles of the hips and torso.
Anti-rotational movements using the cable column are one type of exercise that is great for core strengthening. Don’t be thrown off by the term “anti-rotational” - the point of these exercises is to incorporate core strengthening without stressing the spine. You’ll get plenty of rotation with some of the other exercises, and on the course.
Try adding these exercises to your weekly routine and chances are you will have a leg up on your golfing buddies come spring and a healthy set of new exercises to spruce up your fitness program in the gym.
About The Author
Gregg Simmons is a licensed athletic trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the field of sports medicine and orthopedic rehabilitation. Gregg obtained his Bachelor of Science in sports medicine from the University of Florida. He has extensive experience in both the clinical setting and in the field working directly with athletes in the collegiate and secondary school settings. Gregg's specialty areas are injuries of the knee, ankle and shoulder, sports conditioning and injury prevention.