Getting Fit for Golf – Are You Ready?

This time of year, amateur and professional golfers alike head outdoors to enjoy the sport.  If off-season and pre-season conditioning exercise programs have been neglected, pains, injuries and physical limitations frequently set-in. The most common include: tight or sore chest muscles; decreased flexibility and range of motion, particularly in the torso; strained shoulders and back discomfort. Professional golfers usually have more repetitive motion injuries from extensive hours of practice, while amateurs are more likely to get injured due to lack of physical conditioning; poor swing technique and improper club grip. Body mechanics and core strength play a key role.

Golf and Core Strength

Golf requires the body to habitually bend and twist (tiresome, repetitive motions) that can eventually strain the back and shoulders and create multiple muscle imbalances that precede an injury. To help prevent injuries while increasing performance, golfers should focus on lumbar stabilization, body alignment, stretching exercises and power to increase rotational strength for the swing. Weight lifting for golf may prove beneficial for over-all strength gains; however, it is of little use without enhanced flexibility and a strong core. Core muscles assist in maintaining balance, improving back health and increasing the safety ability to move the trunk through all planes of motion. For example: If a golfer can utilize the force of trunk rotation instead of brute force from supplementary muscles to drive the ball, the chance of a shoulder or low back injury can be decreased.
Muscle Symmetry
A golfer’s healthy playing stance begins with the maintenance of muscle symmetry and correction of muscle imbalances. Players need collective strength and stability in the upper body, lower body, postural musculature and rotational core muscles in order to enhance muscular symmetry. Asymmetry becomes prevalent when a golfer favors a dominant side. In this case, stronger muscles on one side of the body become too tight, while the weaker side has too much elasticity. When muscle symmetry is improved with conditioning exercises, muscle imbalances decrease and the body is less likely to suffer from unnecessary injuries.

Core Exercises for Golf and Torso Stability

  1. Basic Crunch – Works the entire abdominal wall.
    1. Crunch with knees bent and feet flat on the floor or mat. Hands support the head and neck, but do not lock the fingers behind the head.  Exhale on the crunch. Inhale as you lower.
    2. Increase intensity by elevating heels in a resting position on a bench or large fit ball.  Hands still supporting the head and neck, but fingers are not locked behind the head or neck.
    3. Crunch from side to side; elbows open.
    4. Crunch while lying on a fit ball.
  2. Standing Wood-chops or Wood-chops seated on a fit ball.
    1. Hold a Dumbbell or Medicine Ball with both hands.
    2. Perform a twist from low to high position as you move the dumbbell or free weight in a diagonal motion across the midline of the body.
  3. Plank or Side Plank Variation
    1. Plank in a push-up position or lower to the forearms if it hurts your shoulders or neck. Hold until fatigue.
    2. Side plank with feet stacked or slightly staggered. Forearm option if needed to protect shoulders or neck.
  4. Lying Oblique Twist
    1. Lie with knees bent at 90 degrees. Slowly lower you knees to one side without touching the floor. Return to starting and repeat on the other side.
    2. Variation – you can also do this exercise with straight legs (the more advanced version).
  5. Russian Twists
    1. Sit on the floor with knees bent at 90 degrees. Hold a medicine ball or dumbbell and twist from side to side.
    2. Increase intensity by raising one or both legs off the mat.
Why Most “Diets” Often Fail in the Long Run

Why Most “Diets” Often Fail in the Long Run

As we proceed into the spring season of another New Year, I reflect on upon two of the top “New Year’s resolutions” in our society today – weight loss and healthy eating (Statistic Brain). Yes, good intentions are set; people obligate themselves to an intense “diet” plan and promise to workout diligently. After about two weeks, they hop on the scale frustrated to see that their expected results much less than anticipated. When this occurs, most people get fed up and GIVE UP! Hence, one of the many reasons most “diets” fail. Here’s why.

Lack of Truthful Education

Many times “diets” fail due to a lack of truthful education. I’ve had people tell me they put on two pounds over the weekend… “It must have been the extra cheesecake I ate”. Physically, it is very hard for our bodies to gain two pounds of fat in two days. One would have to consume an additional 7,000 calories over and beyond normal, daily intake to gain that much weight. It is, however, very easy to consume an extra 100-150 calories per day (a serving of chips, a couple of cookies or extra slices of bread) and put on an extra ten pounds over the course of a few weeks. If you truly want to lose weight and shed body fat, its important to be mindful of what you eat on a daily basis, and realize additional calories add up over time. When this occurs, you’re back to square one. Starting another “diet”.

Emotional Eating

“Diets” can also lead to emotional eating. If you restrict yourself too much, emotions of frustration, depression, feeling angry, bored and deprived set in. All these emotions are likely to drive you to the kitchen pantry for a handful of something to curb your emotions and feelings of depravation. The immediate satisfaction of this “trigger food’ sparks a craving to eat more, and more and more. Once this pattern has been established, it’s very hard to break. This is why most nutrition experts recommend eating several times a day (small feedings every three to four hours) while choosing foods from all the major food groups (protein, complex carbohydrates, good fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables). When you do this, your body will maintain a sense of fullness and your metabolism will stay elevated throughout the day.

Over Eating

“More people die in the U.S. from too much food than too little” quotes John Kenneth Galbraith in “The Affluent Society”. Many individuals who “diet” often skip meals in order to enjoy indulging on excess food consumption later in the day. If you are one of those people who absolutely cannot resist food temptations no matter what, the best advice is out of sight, out of mind. If you know you can eat a whole box of cookies once you get started, don’t buy them. If you can eat a whole bag of chips during a Monday night football game, don’t buy chips. Try opting for something with less calories and fat. For example, air popped popcorn. Another way to cut back on over eating is portion control. Make a conscious effort to eliminate going back for second helpings, attempt to eat slowly and take pleasure with each bite. There is no reason to gorge.
Bottom Line: Too much or too little of anything is not good for you! If you are considering going on another “diet”, choose a plan you can live with for a lifetime. Think of fueling your body with nutrient rich foods, rather than consuming imitation products full of chemicals and artificial additives. I personally believe it’s important to pay attention to calorie intake, but highly disagree with extensive calorie restriction and depravation “diets” that fail in the long run.
If you are one of the many who are fed up with diet and exercise programs that don’t work, please feel free to contact me for additional tips and strategies that will get you the results you deserve.