The lucky people who take up the game of golf look like gluttons for punishment to the ordinary observer. Putting a person’s body in unusual, twisting positions and generating obscene amounts of torque with a metal stick and it seems kind of crazy when you really think about it. Then repeat that violent swing over 50 to 70 times while walking for 4 to 5 miles. Eventually, even the best golfers in the world will experience muscle fatigue and possibly pain yet most people wonder why the sport continues to thrive. Because it’s fun!
But the real question is how can the people become a healthier individual while taking up such a crazy game?
The key is to become proactive in your approach to the game of golf by taking care of your body before it starts to notice pain. Most golfers will push their bodies to the limit and have extreme cases of lower back, middle back or shoulder pain until they actually decide to do something about it. A symptom like lower back soreness or fatigue is an indicator of an underlying issue that will only continue to worsen unless it is addressed.
When this occurs the first thing you want to do is see your chiropractor. He or she will find the imbalances that are creating stressing on the spine that put the joints and muscles at risk for further injury. The following are some more helpful tips to help lead you to becoming a healthier golfer this year.
• Try to find the right golf clubs. In order to play effectively and reduce the chances of having an injury every golfer should have the proper equipment suited for their body type. It does not help if you are a female who is barely over 5 foot tall and inherited your husband’s golf clubs to use on a regular basis. Not only will the clubs be too long but the shafts will more than likely be too stiff and the grips will be too big. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to a person’s golf swing. The swing plane will have to be changed and the chances of being consistent every time you go to strike the ball are slim to none. The easiest way to get fitted is to attend a demo day at your local golf club when they are made available or find your local golf retailer and ask to get fitted.
• Work on improving flexibility. The majority of people who take up the game of golf believe that you have be stronger in order to hit the ball further and this is far from true. Going to the gym to push more weight and getting stronger may help a little bit but it is more important to work on the mobility of your hips and shoulders to help you crush the ball down the fairway. So, get off of the bench press and go pull out the yoga mat to help open up the hips and shoulders. Even grabbing the dreaded foam roller will help much more than curling 40-pound dumbbells.
• Be sure to incorporate a warm-up routine. Time and time again I see people go straight from their cars to the driving range to whack a bucket of balls before a round with no warm-up. They go in cold and wonder why it takes them time to loosen up. So, give yourself an extra 5-10 minutes before your round to stretch and get the nervous system firing so that you are ready to hit the links without a “getting warmed up” phase through the first few holes.
• Take golf lessons to help the set-up. Addressing the golf ball with the correct posture is crucial for the golf swing and helps to prevent future injury to the lower back and shoulders. Find a local golf professional who can help you find the correct set-up so that each swing becomes more consistent during each round.
• Find a personal trainer to help you along your path. Most people need to extra push or guidance to become more physically fit because relying on oneself can only take you so far. Even the best golfers in the world have trainers to help them find the proper exercises for their body’s capabilities. The best way to find a trainer is to ask your swing coach. Most of them will have someone that they trust and refer to help players along their path to improving function that leads to consistency and better scores on the golf course.
• Always take a drop. If you find yourself stuck up by a tree or with an awkward lie that can cause possible injury from a bad swing then do not do it. The last thing you want to do is injure the wrist, shoulder or lower back and find yourself laying up on the couch instead of enjoying a round of golf with your buddies.
• Drink plenty of water. Early fatigue with the golf swing can be a sign of dehydration, which leads to compensation and eventual injury.
• Do not carry your golf bag for 18 holes. It is always good to get cardiovascular exercise when playing golf but it is a better idea to pull your golf clubs with a pull cart or even ride in a cart as opposed to carrying your bag. Not only does fatigue come into play but compression of the spine starts to occur causing nerve irritation and eventually pain. So, take the load off because 5 miles is a long way to have more than 40 pounds strapped to your back and shoulders.
• Lastly and most importantly, receive consistent chiropractic care. Chiropractors specialize in treating the neuromusculoskeletal system and there are a select few who are certified to assess movement patterns of the body to reduce the risk of future injury. Even shoulder, knee, wrist, elbow and ankle problems can be assessed by a chiropractor and you should never wait for pain to start as the reason to get checked. The game of golf is meant to be fun and no golfer is ever immune to feeling the stresses of the game. But just by implementing some prevention tips you can assure that you will be healthy enough to hit the links for a lifetime.