Millions of Americans love to get out on the course—but unfortunately many are injured while playing and 80 percent are back injuries. So before you head out to the green, read some of these tips to amp up your game and prevent injury.
Stretch your entire body. Stretching before and after a game increases your flexibility and reduces the risk of injury. Muscles and areas of the body to focus on: Achilles tendons, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, hip flexors, lower and upper back, core, wrists, pectorals and shoulders.
Strengthen your core. You use your core muscles every time you swing your club. Many people make the mistake of thinking the core is simply the abdominal muscles, but it actually comprises a larger group of muscles that extend from your shoulders to your pelvis:
- Scapular stabilizers (muscles that keep the shoulder joints and blades in place)
- Transverse abdominis, internal and external oblique muscles and rectus abdominis (three layers of abdominal muscle)
- Multifidus (thin muscle located deep in the spine)
- Gluteus maximus, medius and minimus (the crucial muscles of the hips)
- Pelvic floor muscles (muscles that support our organs and aid in pelvic movement)
Practice off the course. Getting your “golf” muscles working off the course will keep your body primed for when you’re on the course. Practice your swing in the backyard or at the range midweek; this way you’re active between tee times.
Exercise your hips. We’ve all heard that golf is “all in the hips,” and a lot of people seem to agree. By stabilizing the muscles that assist with hip rotation, you may see an improvement in your swing and a decrease in lower back pain. Open and closed kinetic chain exercises are a fantastic way to strengthen your hip muscles, as well as increase flexibility. Examples of these exercises are:
Open kinetic chain exercises: chest presses, bicep curls, leg curls and leg extensions
Closed kinetic chain exercises: pushups, pull-ups, squats and lunges
Adjust regularly. Many pros travel with a chiropractor for a reason: regular adjustments remove subluxations. This removal increases spinal range of motion and ensures optimal spine function. Subluxation is a misalignment in one or more of your vertebrae. This puts stress on your nerves and prevents proper communication from the brain to the body—think of it like only receiving the first six digits of a phone number and attempting to figure out the seventh using the process of elimination. Subluxations in the lower spine and mid-back can affect the rotation of your swing, limiting your swing “range.”
Listen to your body. Always pay close attention to what your body is telling you and don’t push your limits. If you are experiencing pain, your body is sending a message. Address any issues you are having as soon as possible with your chiropractor and while it might be a bummer, put down the clubs for a day or two if that’s what your body needs.