Beyond the Swing: Fitness Techniques to Prevent Golf Injuries
In golf, the perfect swing is not just about aligning your body and moving the club. The perfect swing is accomplished by training your body to be strong, balanced, smooth, and precise all at once in a golden moment. And to be a pro, you need to be able to do that a thousand times without getting an injury. This kind of balance is only achieved by people who embrace the fitness aspect of golf along with the physical action.
Golf injuries can happen suddenly or creep up on you, but they are always the result of an error in motion. Perhaps it was one painful error, or an injury from repeating a very small error hundreds of time. The best way to avoid injuries from motions of error is to hone your body. The stronger, more flexible, and more internally balanced your body is, the better your swing will become naturally.
Today, we're diving into the fitness aspect of mastering your swing. Here are the best ways to adapt your routine and lifestyle to an injury-free golf career.
Lift Clubs Like You're Lifting Weights
Golfers who carry their own clubs have a higher rate of injury than those who don't. This is easy to understand as golf club bags are heavy and sometimes awkward. One poorly aligned lift or an unfortunate swing of the bag while you're in motion could cause real damage. Back and shoulder injuries are the most likely to occur when mishandling a bag of clubs.
Instead of casually shouldering your clubs, think of each lift like you're lifting weights. After all, you are truly lifting measured and weighed sports objects, so this is accurate. When you approach the bag, consider it's balance, weight distribution, and the best way to lift it. Go the extra mile and lift in the way that gives you the best safely-aligned workout.
Wear the Right Shoes
We cannot stress enough how important shoes are to avoiding sports injury. You may already know that the right shoes are essential to a balanced swing, but you need to wear the right shoes both on and off the course. Let us tell you the reason why those shoes are so important.
Shoes define the angle, support, and lift under your feet. This defines the alignment of your ankles, which relates to the alignment of your knees, which relates to your hips and up through your lower spine. Shoes can cause pain or ease it. Shoes can also ensure that your legs are perfectly aligned for balance and flexibility, two essential elements of a smooth, injury-free golf swing.
Strengthen Every Muscle
Golfing doesn't just involve the muscles in your wrist, your back, or your knees. While these are the primary muscles, a good swing is comprised of a harmony between every muscle from toes to fingertips. The way your feet are aligned, your posture, the way you hold the club, and the way you move your body must all work together if you want to both swing well and avoid grinding any part of that harmony when you twist.
So, do a variety workout and build every muscle in your body. Not just your primary muscles, but the support muscles around your joints as well. Work with a personal trainer or look up specific exercises to work out your knees, elbows, hips, and ankles just as much as you work out your legs, arms, shoulders, and back.
Increase Your Endurance
You should also focus on physical endurance. When you get tired, your form slouches and your muscles can start to shake. You are more likely to become injured when tired while practicing or golfing. The longer your muscles can work for you without wearing out, the longer you can practice and the longer games you can play. So make sure cardio and longer sets become part of your routine. Go for longer and longer runs, but focus on keeping up the pressure instead of times or speed. Increase the duration that you can exercise with your entire body and you will be able to maintain perfect golfing form more reliably.
Stay Loose When You Swing
The perfect swing is a smooth transition of motion from ankles to wrists. As your arms move and your body twists, you need to keep in perfect alignment to avoid grinding any joint along the way. Don't tense up when you swing, and don't rely on any one part of your body to provide the power. When you practice, practice staying loose.
Use mindfulness techniques to identify any part of your body that is stretching, grinding, or being over-taxed while you swing. Figure out how to move your entire body, right down to your feet, to complete a swing without putting unnecessary torque on your body.
Support Weak Joints
That perfect harmony can sometimes be harder to reach if your joints are not 100%, and most of us do not have perfect joints. Old injuries, mild natural misalignment, and age all play a part. You may have a knee that is achy and more prone to injury than your other joints. You might have have a weak elbow or a shoulder that twinges when you swing.
That's alright. You can still avoid injury and perfect your alignment. The key is to use the right joint and muscle supporting gear. Many athletes use a compression band or tape around joints that have seen past injuries or feel weak in action. You can also use braces for known joint problems or kinesiology tape for muscle and tendon concerns.
Stretch for Flexibility
Last but not least, remember to stretch. You may need tight form when you swing, but you also need a loose frame. You want your body to flow like water, and to make the full extension when you need the power. Therefore, flexibility is the key to your success. Don't just focus on muscles and endurance, stretch every day and try to beat your limits over time.
We strongly suggest stretching regularly, whenever you get the chance, and also having one complete stretching session once a day.
Before you play or practice, be sure to stretch as part of your warm-ups. Focus on your shoulders, wrists, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles. Carefully twist and loosen up your back and spine as well, possibly with the help of a friend.
Here at Mueller Sports Medicine, we know that golfing is serious business and results in injury more often than people realize. In a long career of golfing, you put yourself at risk of repetitive grinding injuries and sudden torque injuries.
Fortunately, these risks can be reduced and avoided by taking good care of your body and using good form with every swing. To see more, visit our blog for more golf fitness insights and our website for products that can help your injuries.
*Please consult with a medical professional if you have any medical issues that may be affected by the suggested activities.