The seasons are shifting and warmer weather is fast approaching so it is time to dust off your clubs and prepare yourself to ìget fit for golfî. Golf specific fitness is comprised of six main components: balance, flexibility, core strength, muscular endurance, power, and cardiovascular endurance. Development in each of these areas will help improve your golf game and decrease the likelihood of a golf-related injury.
Balance is the first key component of a golf specific fitness program. Throughout our daily activities we become right or left side dominant where one side of the body becomes stronger than the other unless specific exercises that require equal strength and coordination are practiced on a regular basis. This side-dominance can lead to anatomical changes over time where certain structures shorten and others lengthen. A body that is unbalanced will typically exhibit faulty movement patterns therefore increasing the susceptibility to injury.
Flexibility is another crucial component of golf specific fitness as tremendous forces are placed on the shoulders, spine, and hips during the golf swing. Adequate flexibility allows those forces to travel through the body into the club head and finally through the ball. A lack of flexibility causes the force of the swing to remain trapped in the body altering the swing and potentially causing injury. Stretches that address all major muscle groups (neck, shoulders, chest, back, hip flexors, hip extensors, and calves) should be performed on a daily basis.
Golf is a sport that requires a great amount of core strength in order to play competitively and safely. The core musculature (abdominals, gluteals, hip flexors, and spinal extensors) must all share the load of stabilizing the body during the golf swing. These muscles must also be able to contract in the correct sequence to maximize power and control during all components of the swing. A strong core acts as an anchor from which the extremities can move more efficiently. Some basic core exercises include pushups, pull-ups, body weight squats, lunges, rotational exercises and hip bridges.
Every golfer needs to have sufficient muscular endurance in order to resist fatigue and continue to exhibit good technique from the first tee to the 18th green. Poor swing mechanics as a result of muscular fatigue can cause technique to degrade, increasing the likelihood of injury and affecting your performance. Your fitness program should include exercises that focus on muscular endurance (low weight, high repetitions) for all major muscle groups.
Another component of golf specific fitness is power. Power is defined as force multiplied by velocity. Strength will help you drive the ball, but power will help you drive the ball farther. Once you have developed an adequate amount of muscular strength and endurance the addition of speed work to some of your exercise program will help you put more power behind your swing.
Cardiovascular endurance is also important as the body must be efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients to working muscles throughout the entire game or it will be forced to slow down. Just as muscular fatigue can be detrimental, cardiovascular fatigue can also lead to poor performance on the course.
A golf specific fitness program will allow you to play golf better and longer, reduce the risk of injury and ultimately improve your game and your life.
Empower’s Get Fit for Golf Clinic starts next Tuesday!