Preparation for Golf Season
After a long and cold winter, warmer temperatures are rapidly approaching, (hopefully), and with that comes the return of golf season. As is typical during the winter months, we do not maintain our fitness level (proper flexibility and strength) that we developed in the previous golf seasons. It is important that we re-develop these so we do not injure ourselves as we return to the game that we love. With the appropriate planning, initiation of flexibility and strength program as well as slow and gradual return to swinging the clubs, we will be able to enjoy a long and injury-free golf season.
It is important that we regain appropriate flexibility, not only to keep undue pressure through the muscles and joints, but also to allow us to achieve proper positions for appropriate swing plane/angles. Stretching should consist of 3 repetitions with a hold time of 30 seconds each and should be completed 3-4x/week. These stretches should include: the shoulder and forearm musculature to allow for proper swing planes and proper wrist action for striking the ball; back musculature to allow proper trunk rotation for take-away and follow-through; hip and leg musculature to allow for and maintain proper posture and stance.
As with any sport/activity, we need to have enough strength to be able to accomplish what we have started. The golf swing is a very complex movement with a lot of different muscles working together to perform the necessary actions to address the ball, have a full and complete take-away, striking the ball and finally, finishing with proper follow-through, all while maintaining proper posture and balance. The most important component of all of this starts with core strength. Our core consists of the musculature through the mid-section, abdominals and obliques, low back extensors and gluteal musculature. Core strength is most important for golfers to avoid faulty mechanics in our swings (causing poor shots) and to avoid injury. Other strengthening exercises should include the leg musculature, especially for walkers in the springtime as the ground remains soft and spongy, as well as the shoulders and forearm musculature. Strengthening exercises should consist of 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions with increasing amounts of weights.
Gradual Return to Full Round of Golf:
Clinical expertise suggests that a 3-week strategy is preferable for return to playing a round. In week 1, practice shots for 100 yards or less. First time out, start with 15-20 swings and gradually increase the amount of repetitions as the week progresses. In week 2, re-introduce longer irons for shots between 100-200 yards with gradually increasing amount of repetitions. The 3rd week is when the woods and driver are finally introduced.
After the initiation of the flexibility and strengthening program and the 3 week period of gradual progression of swinging, you will be able to enjoy a long and successful golf season that will not be interrupted or derailed by injury.
Anthony Mencucci, PT