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.
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Boost Immunity, Reduce Stress and Fight Common Ailments with YOGA

Practicing yoga can help unite the mind and body in a way that fosters health and well-being.  Numerous studies have shown that yoga positively affects the body’s musculoskeletal, circulatory, endocrine and nervous systems.  Yoga can also increase muscular strength, balance , flexibility, precision of movement and tonicity while reducing the risk of injury commonly found in contact sports and high-impact exercise.

Additional good news!  Yoga’s influence on health is gaining increased recognition in mainstream medical circles.  Studies from the Harvard Medical School and University of Massachusetts Medical Center conclusively show that yoga and meditative relaxation boost immunity, reduce stress and aid in the healing of many chronic illnesses.  This is why many prestigious hospitals and wellness centers now offer yoga classes to their patients. Powerful proof that yoga is beneficial to our health!  Ready to give it a try?

Yoga for Immunity and the Common Cold – Downward Facing-Dog

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Yoga helps keep the immune system strong on a day-to-day basis using poses, asanas, to lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system.  It also strengthens your resistance to viral and bacterial intruders that lead to infection.  Recommended asanas (like Downward Facing-Dog, Camel Pose, Child’s Pose, Supported Bridge, Cobra Pose, Back Bends, Forward Bends and Twists) also condition the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulate the lymphatic system to release toxins and bring clean, oxygenated blood to the organs.

Yoga for Insomnia – Standing Forward Bend

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If you have difficulty falling asleep, stress is a likely culprit.  Regular asana practice can reduce tension and help you wind down when it is time for bed.  Calming asanas such as forward bends, twists, simple inversions, lying with your feet elevated or up on the wall and gentle breathing can all help with insomnia.

Yoga for Back Pain – Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend

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When it comes to back pain, consistent stretching of the low back and hamstrings are your best bet.  Backaches can result from injury, overuse or mis-use, but the prime culprit often lies in mis-alignment.  A constant tug-of-war between your abdominals pulling the pelvis forward and the hamstrings counter pulling the pelvis back.  Yoga poses like the Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend give the spine and opportunity to lengthen horizontally while the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles lengthen vertically, thus reducing pressure on the back.  Another good way to stretch the low back is to lie down while drawing your knees into the chest and lifting your nose toward your knees (like giving yourself a big hug).

Yoga for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Cobra Pose

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Mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can be treated with asanas that facilitate wrist rejuvenation and counteract repetitive movements, stress and strain on the upper back, neck, shoulders, hands, arms and wrists.  A regular practice of yoga can strengthen these areas and reduce overall physical stress by teaching you how to be aware of your posture, alignment and breathing – how to sit, lift, stand and stretch – when performing activities that contribute to CTS.

Yoga for Strained Eyes and Blurry Vision – Corpse Pose

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Blurry vision, distorted vision and stinging dry eyes are common in individuals who sit at a computer or mobile device for more than three hours at a time.  It is also common in individuals who study, read or do paper work for extended periods without a break. The best remedy – dim the lights, lie down and take a break.  If you are in an office setting and you cannot lie down, force yourself to get up and stretch at least once for every hour spent at the computer.  Close your eyes, quiet your mind, practice deep breathing and let your mind relax!

Resistance Training for Overweight Youth

Years ago, resistance training for the youth population was often considered unsafe and potentially injurious to the developing muscle-skeletal system.  Particularly so for children under the age of 14 years.  With the global epidemic of pediatric obesity on the rise, new research has emerged.  Over the past decade, numerous studies have shown that regular participation in resistance training programs can improve cardiorespiratory fitness, bone mineral density, blood lipids and total well-being for our youth.  Resistance training can also help children lose excess body fat and improve insulin sensitivity at the cellular level.  These two factors alone can have a huge impact on the reduction of childhood obesity as a whole.

General Program Design and Guidelines for the Overweight Youth

  • Make sure the program is adequately supervised by a qualified instructor / personal trainer.
  • Ensure the exercise environment is safe and free from potential hazards.
  • Begin each session with a 5 to 7 minute, dynamic warm-up.
  • Perform 1 to 3 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions for each exercise.
  • Include exercises for the legs, arms, back and midsection.
  • Focus on technique rather than the amount of weight being lifted.
  • Include a cool-down and stretch period after each session.
  • Strive to resistance train 2 to 3 times / week on nonconsecutive days.
  • Use individual workout logs to chart progress.
  • Periodically vary the resistance training program.