Golfing in Good Health
Gary Player has been preaching the benefits of fitness for golfers since the 1950’s, but the other players of the time never got off their bar stools long enough to ever really give it a try and as a result it never really caught on. About ten years ago a young Tiger Woods and an older Vijay Singh gave it another try and have successfully taken golf fitness well past the fad stage and have intricately woven it into the fabric of “what it takes to be a golfer”. Today most golf clubs have a gym or spa on premise. There are hours of fitness programming on The Golf Channel each week, as well as articles, books and retail products specifically designed to get golfers in shape. Improving strength, balance, flexibility and endurance is obviously beneficial to everyone, but most are missing the point entirely when it comes to golf specific fitness.
Most of these articles and programs address fitness in terms of performance, when I believe they should simply be talking about good “golf health”. What’s the better goal for most of us, playing a season pain free or taking a stroke or two off our score? The main problem with golf is that it is a one sided sport. If we make 200 swings on a typical golf day, that means that we twist, stretch and involve the muscles in the same way in the same direction and only in that direction every time. Imbalances in muscle strength and flexion occur as a result. A body out of balance or harmony is a trip to the doctor waiting to happen. If the muscles and tendons surrounding the right hip are tight and the left hip flexible, and your left shoulder strong and your right one week, a pinched nerve, a slipped disk, or a sore knee is just a little bobble away.
Luckily the most effective remedy is also the simplest. It requires no investment and or special equipment. Simply turn around and swing the other way for a while. If you fantasize about swinging like Tiger on the range, simply walk to the other side of the ball and swing like Phil Mickelson. You obviously don’t need to actually hit any balls. The key is just stretching and working the muscles on the other side of your body in the opposite direction. With every non-dominant swing you will be bringing your body more into a balanced harmonious position as well as preparing it for a pain free season. Good Luck! - James