As we are now in the midst of golf season and NBS’ annual golf tournament is fast approaching, it is only appropriate to offer some tips on how to avoid injury during your golf game.
It is critical that you allow time for blood flow to increase to your muscles before you fully exert yourself athletically. In the case of golf, a great way to warm-up is to hit the driving range before you start your game. Always start with smaller shots, such as putting and chipping, and gradually increase the size and intensity of the swing so that you finish off with fairway woods and drivers.
Stretching our muscles after warming up is helpful to increase our range of motion and allow for a fuller, more natural swing during your game. Also, stretching as needed during the round is helpful as certain muscles feel tight from the use they get during your swing or walking the course. Finally, stretching at the end of the round may help to prevent some delayed onset muscle soreness in the 1-2 days following your round. It is imperative that your muscles always be warmed up before you attempt to stretch them. Below are some easy stretches that you may want to incorporate into your routine. Hold each stretch at a comfortable "pull" for 15-20 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side.
- Forearm Stretch 1 — With your elbow straight and palm facing down, use the opposite hand to bend your wrist down until you feel a stretch along the top of the forearm.
- Forearm Stretch 2 — In the same position as above, bend the wrist up until you feel a stretch along the underside of the forearm.
- Shoulder Stretch — Reach one arm across the body just below shoulder level with the elbow straight. Place the opposite hand between the shoulder and elbow and gently assist the stretch.
- Spinal Rotation — Stand with your knees slightly bent and body upright. Place a golf club horizontally behind your back and hook your arms around it. Gently twist the spine to one side trying to keep your pelvis facing forward (i.e. same direction as your feet).
- Calf Stretch — Using your golf club for balance, place one foot back keeping the feet hip-width apart. Place the back heel on the ground with the knee straight and gently lunge forward bending the front knee. Ensure that the knee of the front leg does not go beyond the tip of your shoe.
3. Reduce Strain
There are a number of ways to reduce unnecessary strain on your body during your golf game. First of all, use a push cart instead of carrying your bag or even a pull cart as it reduces strain on the shoulders and spine. Of course, if you have an underlying medical condition you can always rent an electric ride-on cart. Secondly, do not "over grip" the club. Not only will this improve your swing, but it will reduce strain on the forearm muscles. Finally, decrease strain on your lower back by ensuring that you have a proper stance with the knees slightly bent and the back straight so that you are bending forward at the hips rather than through the lower back.
4. Keep Moving & Stay Hydrated
In order to prevent injury, you need to keep your muscles warm and the blood circulating in between shots. That is why walking the golf course is a great option provided you don’t have any medical conditions that would prevent you from doing this. Furthermore, all of those steps you take when you are walking the course count as part of your daily activity! As is the case with any activity in the hot summer months, ensure you drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
I hope these tips are helpful and will allow you to enjoy a healthy golf season! And remember, if you are having discomfort/pain or need help addressing specific musculoskeletal issues with respect to your golfing, you can always consult a physiotherapist.