5 Ways to Avoid Being Sidelined in Golf

From the WebMD Archives

By Amy McGorry

A “relaxing game of golf” can actually be anything but relaxing for your body. Back, knee, shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries are common because the rotational nature of the sport places a lot of torque on your joints and muscles. When tight and weak muscles are present, your body, determined to hit that ball, will compensate to move through the swing, leaving you at risk for injury.

Aside from your body, your power and accuracy also suffer when muscle imbalances are present. So don’t hit your club on the ground after a frustrating shot -- hit the gym instead with these exercises, so you can keep your game on the green.

1. Got Back?

The vertebrae in your spine rotate throughout the golf swing, causing a “wringing” effect on the discs (the jelly-like substances between the vertebrae). This motion can place extra pressure on the discs and cause them to “bulge,” which aggravates surrounding nerves and soft tissues.

Studies show strengthening the multifidus muscle (along your spine) helps support the vertebrae and decreases low back pain. To strengthen the multifidus and core muscles that help stabilize the spine, try this exercise:

Arm/Leg Lifts

  • On all fours, lift opposite arm and leg
  • Keep back straight
  • Hold 3 seconds, then alternate sides
  • Repeat for 2 minutes

2. Avoid The Grind

Swinging the club causes rotation of your shinbone (tibia) on your thighbone (femur), which creates grinding of the bone and cartilage in the knee. Strengthening ankle and hip muscles can help stabilize these forces. Try:

Ankle Wipers

  • Wrap a resistance band around your foot and the other end to a sturdy object
  • Keep knee straight
  • Move foot inward, feeling the band resist you
  • Don’t let knee roll
  • Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Then resist moving foot outward

Side Kicks

  • Stand with your back against wall
  • Lift left leg out to the side, keeping heel against the wall
  • Maintain hip, knee and ankle alignment on the standing leg
  • Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Repeat with the other leg

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3. Get Hip

Asymmetry of hip rotation in rotational sports like golf can strain the lower back. Keep your hips swinging freely with these:

Hip Rotation

  • Lie on your stomach with your back flat, knees bent to 90 degrees
  • Rotate one foot inward and outward slowly
  • Repeat with other foot
  • Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions with each leg

Hip-Flexor Stretch

  • Kneel on one knee, hip behind knee
  • Keep back straight as you lean forward (stretch felt in the upper thigh)
  • Hold 30 seconds
  • Switch legs

4. Pump Up The Pecs

Injuries reportedly occur twice as often during the downswing as they do during the backswing. Your pectoral muscles work during the downswing phase to propel the club head. To prevent shoulder issues and faulty swing mechanics, strengthen the upper back, rotator cuff and pecs. Add this exercise to your workout:

Chest Fly

  • Lie on back, arms out to the side at shoulder height
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, elbows slightly bent
  • Bring hands together at the mid-chest
  • Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions

5. Lats Get Swinging!

The latissimus dorsi muscle in the mid-back is actively involved in the swing. Weakness can contribute to shoulder and neck pain, in addition to faulty swing mechanics. Try:

Lat Pulldowns

  • Hold resistive tubing tied to pole
  • Hold arms in front of your body at shoulder height, elbows straight
  • Pull tubing down towards your thighs, keeping your ribs over your pelvis
  • Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Always check with a physician prior to starting any exercise program.

WebMD Feature from Turner Broadcasting System
© Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

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