Fitness Can Improve Golf Performance
The tremendous growth in the popularity of golf has led to an increased understanding of the technical aspects of the game and an explosion in equipment refinement.
Many golfers believe they can improve their game by simply spending more money on new equipment. Good technique and equipment are extremely important for performance; however what is often overlooked is the physical fitness of the person operating the equipment.
Fitness is the ability to perform a task with optimal efficiency. An efficient cardio-vascular system, good posture (trunk stability) and a balance of muscle strength, joint flexibility and coordination all lead to physical fitness—–and a winning golf game.
The golf swing should be a fluid, relaxed motion. In order to achieve this, supple joints and flexible muscles are important.
Without flexibility the body compensates and a less efficient swing will occur which could lead to injuries. Therefore it is very important to stretch the muscles used for golf before, during and after every game and practice session.
Increased flexibility can also lead to greater power. Greater trunk rotation range of motion helps create a longer back swing which in turn permits the abdominal muscles more time on the downswing to accelerate the trunk to maximum velocity.
Recent research has shown that the abdominal muscles, especially the lower abdominals and obliques are the most important muscles in the golf swing, as they are responsible for trunk rotation. Strong abdominal muscles protect the low back from injury and can also cause increased power in the down swing if used properly.
It is also important to strengthen other muscles used for golf to enhance performance such as the shoulder rotators, upper back muscles, hip, leg and forearm muscles.
It is equally important to perform warm up activities after the muscles have been stretched to enhance optimum performance and prevent injury and muscle soreness.
This is done at the driving range and before every game by warming up gradually, using short irons to pitch and chip, gradually progressing to a half swing using longer irons and finally to the woods for driving practice.
Aerobic training should also be performed 3-4 times a week. This could include walking jogging or cycling.
Each exercise program should take into account the particular needs of the individual. Anyone not sure of their medical status should consult a physician before commencing any fitness program. Persistant aches and pains while exercising should be seen by a Physician or Physiotherapist. If unsure about how to set up an exercise program specific for golf, a professional should be consulted for advice.
Virginia Boro, Physiotherapist is the Director of The Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre