Jinxed on the links? Whether you’re a golf novice or a veteran of the game, you’re likely to have had the experience of feeling like you’ve been jinxed. You practice, you focus, and you know what you need to do. Yet, despite your greatest efforts, you slice, you hook, or perhaps miss the ball entirely. Sound familiar? While luck has its place in any game, performance ultimately depends on many factors well within your ability to control or at least positively influence.
With 25.9 million Americans now playing golf, the sport is one of the country’s most popular recreational activities (National Golf Foundation). Unfortunately, its soaring popularity does not come without a price...a physical one. One need only evaluate the compressive forces and torque speeds generated in a single round of golf to understand that golfers are athletes and that golf is a physically demanding sport. Few other sports require the extremes of joint range of motion and flexibility such as that required at the top of one’s back swing. Good golfers require the ability to generate and sustain impressive swing speeds. Successful golfers transfer tremendous strength and power from body to club and ultimately to the golf ball in fractions of a second while remaining balanced and focused. And they do it over and over which is a testament to the committed golfer’s endurance.
IDENTIFYING WEAK LINKS
If you’re an avid golfer, you already know that faulty mechanics is a major obstacle that can negatively impact your ability to produce an effective and consistent golf swing. Historically, golf lessons have focused largely on teaching proper swing mechanics through verbal instruction as well as visual and tactile cueing. The problem often encountered is that the brain understands on an intellectual level, but the body doesn’t get it on a physical level. While such instruction is a vital and integral part of the learning process, players of the game are often frustrated by physical limitations that render the body incapable of making the recommended adjustments. The body may simply lack the physical prerequisites needed in producing an effective and consistent swing.
While flexibility, strength, power, finesse, balance and stability are key components to developing an effective swing, equally as important is efficiency, specifically neuromuscular efficiency. You may be the strongest, most powerful and most flexible golfer on the course, but if you can’t activate the muscles you need at the precise moment you need them, chances are that your ball is not going where you intended. Neuromuscular efficiency allows the golfer to recruit the muscles he or she needs at the right time, in the right sequence and without compensation patterns that waste energy.
Whether on the field, the court, the track or the golf course, compensations frequently occur due to the inability to perform a pattern of movement. A golfer lacking adequate flexibility in the hips may compensate for that deficit by excessively rotating the back at the top of the backswing. Due to the repetitive nature of the game, there is an increased risk for cumulative low back injury. Similarly, golfers who lack strength and power in the abdominal muscles (especially in the obliques which are responsible for rotating the trunk) may develop shoulder or elbow pain as a result of overusing the arms to accelerate the club on the downswing. Such compensations frequently manifest as faulty swing mechanics that subsequently develop into overuse injuries like tendonitis and back pain. Other compensations are further reinforced as a reaction to pain. Think of the runner who alters his gait due to a pulled hamstring. Likewise, a golfer may alter his or her swing if back pain hinders the golfer’s ability to rotate the trunk. Without trunk rotation, a golfer will not be able to generate enough speed or power for an effective swing. Ultimately, a vicious cycle of faulty mechanics, followed by pain leading back to faulty mechanics ensues. The intricate series of kinematic events within the swing is lost and with it, many golf balls! Schedule your fitness assessment today and start playing better golf tomorrow!
IT DON’T MEAN A THING IF IT AIN’T GOT THAT SWING
In recent years, golfers looking for that elusive competitive edge have begun looking beyond basic swing mechanics. And they’re finding that edge in their workouts. Personal trainers design golf specific programs to increase flexibility, strength, power, neuromuscular efficiency and endurance. Exercises that are golf specific include rotational patterns of movement (versus traditional crunches) for strengthening the abdominal muscles. Stability exercises such as those performed on a stability ball or bosu balance trainer are effective for improving balance, neuromuscular efficiency and core conditioning. Your core muscles include your deep abdominal and back muscles which are responsible for protecting your back from injury. Flexibility exercises that address the range of motion required from the back, hips, and shoulders are critical to every golfer’s success in terms of performance but also with regard to preventing injury. Cardiovascular exercise improves endurance and enhances performance by delaying fatigue, thereby allowing a better golf game from start to finish!
GETTING MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR
Collectively, golf fanatics spend millions of dollars on lessons, clubs, balls, and exclusive country clubs. But most don’t spend even a fraction of their expenses on their number one asset. Your greatest asset in the game of golf is a fit, flexible, powerful body. It’s not the most expensive clubs you buy, the course you play on or the balls you use. Incorporating a golf specific conditioning program will increase your confidence and enjoyment of the game, not to mention add yards to your drive, lower your handicap and significantly reduce your risk of injury. Other pleasant “side effects” of a properly designed golf conditioning program are likely to include weight loss, lower blood pressure, an increase in muscle mass and improved heart and lung function.
No doubt, the call to tee time will be enticing on that first warm spring day. Let this season be the season you improve your swing, your drive and most of all your confidence and enjoyment of the game!
GYMGUYZ® is proud to be # 1 in Home Personal Training! We are a mobile Personal Training Franchise Company providing convenient, customized and creative workouts in your home, office or setting of your choice! We offer one-on-one workouts, group instruction and corporate fitness programs. Schedule your complimentary fitness assessment today! 1-855-GYM-GUYZ.