Get in the swing for golf season
A game of golf is a healthy activity to help gain and maintain flexibility and range of motion. It’s a physical activity that includes walking, lifting and repetitive arm movements, providing the benefits of cardiovascular and strengthening exercise programs. However, returning to action after being on hiatus for several months puts enthusiasts at high risk of injury.
The golf swing is a complex, explosive and physically stressful movement that requires the full rotational capacity of 127 joints and the dynamic activation and co-ordination of 400 pairs of muscles. These unique and complex motions create considerable stress on various parts of the body.
Statistics show that the lower back and shoulder areas are particularly susceptible to injury amongst golfers. Older golfers are even more susceptible as the aging process tends to reduce flexibility in the shoulders and back by approximately 25%. Fortunately, research also shows that these age-related changes are easily reversed through an appropriate golf-specific exercise program.
Physiotherapy Can Help
More and more golfers are consulting with physiotherapists for advice with their injuries or are looking for exercise programs to prevent injuries and improve performance.
Golfers need to begin exercising a few weeks in advance of the season, to prepare the body for the activity ahead.
Some suggestions include:
- Walking 20-30 minutes a day, three to four times a week;
- Begin practicing your grip on the club;
- Practice your back swing. Keep the club at waist level and slowly increase to a full swing;
- Start with one of the shorter clubs and work up to the longer, heavier irons.
Stretching – as a warm-up, as a break during repetitive movements and as a cool-down after your golf game – helps you to move easily, keeps muscles flexible and relaxed, joints mobile, and relieves tension and strain. Think of golfing like any other active pursuit that requires an appropriate warm-up and cool-down. When planning your golf game, add proper and effective stretching to the list of tasks.
A game of golf is an excellent way to get your whole body in motion. Moving properly and efficiently creates less strain on the body – Be aware of posture and body mechanics to help lessen the strain on your body. Minimize lifting and carrying heavy loads.
Add up the time spent on the golf course. Planning, pacing and rotating activities frequently eases tension in strained muscles. Take frequent stretch breaks. Change positions and tasks often. If a position or posture is causing problems, move out of it.
Reduce strain by using the right equipment for you
Gear – such as your golf shoes, clubs and golf bag – are meant to ease the work, not cause additional strain. Reduce strain by fitting the clubs to the golfer, not the golfer to the clubs. Physiotherapists recommend that golfers choose their golf equipment to match their skill level and body type.
Here are a few of their recommendations:
- Carry your golf bag over both shoulders and walk upright. If you have a one-strap system, alternate sides;
- Push rather than pull a wheeled golf cart;
- Hold clubs in a loose, comfortable grip to reduce strain in your hand and forearm;
- When standing for long periods, stand tall and occasionally shift your weight from one foot to the other, or rest one foot on your golf bag or cart.
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) represents physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants and physiotherapist students across Canada. CPA members are rehabilitation professionals dedicated to the health, mobility and fitness of Canadians.
Physiotherapists are primary health care professionals who combine their in-depth knowledge of the body and how it works with specialized hands-on clinical skills to assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of illness, injury or disability.
More than 20,000 registered physiotherapists work in Canada, in private clinics, general and rehabilitation hospitals, community health centres, residential care and assisted-living facilities, home visit agencies, workplaces, and schools.
The CPA presents its educational references as a public service and for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the opinions of the CPA membership.