Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Play Smart! Essential Golf’s Top 10 Fitness Tips

Play Smart! Essential Golf's Top 10 Fitness Tips

Amongst leisure players common golf injuries are often caused through lack of preparation and an eagerness simply to get out there are play away. This is why elite players—who already have a high level of fitness—will routinely prepare with a warm-up session. But the average pro player’s warm-up would tire most weekend player like a 36-hole session in 100-degree heat! So for your regular preparation, keep it simple. Some brisk distance walking is a great starter, and simple flexing joint movements are better than no warm-up at all. Here are some advice points that can help you be at your best on the first tee. 

1. The Essential Warm-Up  

You don’t need two hours to prepare for your weekly game, but 15-30 minutes of light activity can certainly help you get in the groove. Before you practice your heroic swing or set out play a full round of golf, do remember to warm up—with some brisk walking for half an hour or a set of stretching exercises that flex your joints. Stretch your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine, and pelvis. Swing your golf club a few times, and gradually increasing your range of motion (see also 4, below)

2. Put Gas in Your Tank 

Even with a proper warm-up, players can encounter problems if they haven’t “fueled up” before playing. If your tee time is in the morning, be sure to eat a light breakfast prior to the round. Recommended are: 

• Yogurt with fruit 

• Toast with peanut butter 

• Poached or scrambled eggs 

• Orange juice or coffee 

Also, plan ahead. Put a banana, apple, bag of nuts, and a bottle of water in your golf bag the night before your round. This bit of preparation will help sustain your energy on the back nine and maximize your performance. And remember to keep hydrated to ensure you don’t overheat. 

3. Build on Your Endurance 

The key word here is “build.” With an exercise routine over time, maybe weeks or months, you will notice your comfortable endurance level increases significantly. When you’ve extended your brisk walk to four or five miles or climbed that hill in one instead of three stops on the way up, then you know this pleasurable work-out is indeed working for you. 

Regular aerobic activity, walking, jogging, bicycling, or swimming can all add to your staying power on the course.  

• Remember: The World Golf Foundation estimates that golfers who walk an 18-hole course clock about 5 miles and burn up to 2,000 calories. 

4. Start Slow 

You might practice your swing for hours, believing it’s helping your game — but if your body isn’t conditioned for the strain, practicing your golf swing may do more harm than good. Work up to your desired level of activity instead with a few simple exercises that will help strengthen your muscles, such as: 

Standing Side Bends 

Grasp a club with both hands. With a shoulder-width grip, raise the club overhead and bend to the right until you feel a stretch in the left rib cage. Hold for 20-30 seconds, return to the upright position and then bend in the opposite direction. This stretch will prepare you to rotate throughout the golf swing. 

Kneeling Overhead Rotations 

Step forward with your right foot and place left knee on the ground. Holding a club overhead, slowly rotate your body left, then right. This is an excellent stretching exercise to loosen up your thoracic spine (mid-back), which is a problematic area for all golfers. 

Single Leg Touchdowns 

Balance on your left foot. With eyes focused straight ahead, bend slightly at waist and slowly bend left knee while your right hand touches the outside of your left shoe. Repeat this action 10 times on each leg. This is a great balance exercise that fires your thigh muscles and gluteals. Form and technique are important in this exercise, not speed. It will warm up the legs and create a sense of balance and tempo. 

• Remember: stronger muscles are less prone to golf injuries. So for best results, do your strength training exercises year-round. 

5. Be Flexible 

Regular stretching can improve your range of motion and lead to a more fluid golf swing. As we age, our spinal mobility and the ability to absorb forces applied to the spinal column decrease, making older golfers more susceptible to injury—and lower back pain is the number one injury sustained by golfers. Most back pain develops over time rather than from one traumatic incident and the cause is often related to incorrect playing posture and/or lack of warm-up prep.