Preventing golf injuries is one of the most important aspects of the fitness regime for both professional and amateur golf players. Here we look at the importance of the warm-up session.
Imagine you’re on a business trip and have a chance to sneak in an afternoon round at a golf course that was recommended by the hotel concierge, a course that earned rave reviews online. You get to the first tee and encounter your playing partners for the day.
After a quick introduction, you find out that all three are playing the course for the first time and have roughly the same handicap. Now, for a little quiz:
Which player will have the lowest score after the first three holes?
- The one dressed in an all-orange getup that would make Rickie Fowler smile.
- The lanky guy with the pink “Bubba Watson” driver.
- The serious gent wearing his version of Tiger’s “Sunday best,”—red shirt, black slacks and a black hat.
Answer: D. The player who had the best warm-up.
Preventing Golf Injuries
Weekend golfers love to mimic the equipment, clothing and accessories favored by the pros they watch on television. Too often, however, they neglect the warm-up period that can foster peak performance from the first tee that can also prevent golf injuries.
Nearly half of all amateur golfers head immediately to the tee box after checking in at their local course and routinely “let it rip” after a couple practice swings. That approach is a stark contrast to professional players, many of whom begin their warm-up two hours before a scheduled tee time with a stop in a fitness trailer. These are staffed by professionals and equipped with treadmills, elliptical machines, exercise balls and other equipment.
Those resources may not be available at the local course, but amateur players can still benefit from a proper warm-up. The golf swing is a complex athletic activity that moves the body through a wide range of motions and varying velocities. Performing the motions “cold” can lead to wayward shots and painful pulls.
It’s no fun playing the back nine with a strained back! It’s even less fun having to cancel your weekly game while visiting the sports medicine clinic.
Advice on Preventing Golf Injuries
The average professional player’s warm-up would tire a weekend player like a 36-hole session in 100-degree heat. You don’t need two hours to get ready for your weekly game, but 15-30 minutes of light activity can help. Brisk walking is a good start, but that jaunt from the parking lot to the tee box does not qualify as a proper warm-up. Some simple jumping jacks are better than no warm-up. Here are some exercises that can help you be at your best and help in preventing golf injuries.
3-4 Double Leg Squats
Extend arms, point toes slightly outward to open hips. Keeping your head forward, squat down with weight shifting to the heels until the thighs are parallel to the ground. With head up, fire the quadriceps and return to the upright position. This will help the gluteal (butt) and thigh muscles.
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.
In addition to the fitness trailer, professional players have access to registered dieticians to help performance. Even with a proper warm-up, amateur players can encounter problems if they do not “fuel up” before playing. If your tee time is in the morning, be sure and eat a light breakfast prior to the round—this will aid in preventing golf injuries. Examples of a good breakfast include:
- Yogurt with fruit
- Toast with peanut butter
- Poached or scrambled eggs
- Orange juice or coffee
It’s also a good idea to plan ahead and 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.
Any amount of physical exercise can put strain on our bodies. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur golfer, a light warm-up and a great breakfast can go a long way in preventing golf injuries.