Spring around the corner can only mean one thing; the start of the golf season. As the days get brighter, warmer and longer, more and more golfers are dusting off their clubs and hitting the course.
Despite being (unfairly) stereotyped as an ‘old man’s game’, golf places its own demands on the body.
The swing itself is extremely complex and requires flexibility, power and co-ordination as multiple body parts – shoulders, wrists, lower back, hips and knees – all have to function in sequence to provide precision and consistency.
Unfortunately, if any of these elements are below par (pardon the pun), injuries can happen.
Classically, the majority of golfers have sedentary jobs, and as a result the stiffness through the spine and in the hamstrings that comes from spending hours sitting.
When they try to mimic the ‘textbook’ swing, their lack of flexibility and rotation forces them to over-rely on the arms and shoulders. For these ‘arm-swingers’ , the compromised action places stress on the spine during impact, with lumbar spine injuries an all-too-common result. What’s more, this tightness – particularly in the hamstrings – reduces pelvic rotation and can cause a tendency to slice.
The Arm Swing vs The Full Body Swing
The arm swing produces less power, fatigues quicker, carries more injury risk and is inconsistent. The Full Body Swing, on the other hand, recruits major muscle groups in the hips, legs and back, to create more club head speed with minimal effort and greater consistency.
Whilst a golf pro can address the technical side of the game, such as the grip and stance, they can’t improve your fundamental stability and flexibility. But a Physio can. He or she can assess your biomechanics, and enhance strength, stability and range of movement to prevent injury and improve your game.
Greater flexibility and improved posture (not only when addressing the ball but at your work station) can help to prevent injury and better still, may also put 50 yards on your drive.
For those fair-weather golfers who are keen to start conditioning their bodies ready for the season, here a few exercises to get the ball rolling and turn you from an Arm Swinger to a Full Body Swinger…
Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on opposite leg.
(Greater flexibility in the hamstrings allows more movement in the pelvis, which allows greater spine and trunk rotation and helps stop that slice).
Supine lumbar rotations
Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on opposite side.
(Greater flexibility in the lower back also allows greater pelvic and trunk rotation and increased torque through impact).
then rotation of the trunk to one side then the other.
(Lunges will help to increase strength and control in the lower limbs, such as gluts and quadriceps – the trunk rotation will help to maintain that balance and stability throughout the swing).