Categorized | Featured, Golf Fitness, Health

Are You Fit For Golf?

Loss of flexibility, strength and conditioning can be a real problem for older golfers. Here, Trent Malcolm, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, provides a tailored improvement program especially for older golfers.

Could your body be limiting your golfing potential?

By Trent Malcolm

Are you trying to change your golf swing and finding it difficult to get into the positions your coach is asking for?  If this is the case then maybe your physical make up is slowing your progress.  Perhaps you are too stiff around your back or shoulders, maybe the co-ordination/timing of your body movements is a little off or maybe you are swaying and sliding in your swing?  A conditioning program specific to your body and your swing priorities can fast track your golf improvement and reduce the likelihood of injury.

Are you stiff and restricted in your backswing?  Do you struggle to get into a full finishing position?
A normal part of the ageing process is a reduction in the elasticity of the muscles and connective tissue and will likely have a major impact on your swing mechanics. Craig Bishop, Patterson River Country Club Head Pro says “This can result in poor rotation.  Excessive arm motion will be used in an effort to complete the backswing and this extra motion can make the timing of the swing difficult. Conversely a player may not swing long with the arms and will then have a very short abbreviated action that will need more body movement to help produce speed at impact.”

 

However all is not lost; this stiffness typical with age can be improved with the appropriate stretching regime. 
To increase your shoulder range of motion, try the stretches shown in figures 1 and 2. 

 

Figure 1
Start by lying on your stomach with your legs together and your arms in the position shown in Figure 1.  Now take your right leg over to touch the ground on the opposite side (Figure 1). You should feel a stretch around your left shoulder and through the side of your torso. Hold this position for about 30 seconds.

 

Figure 1

 

 

 

 

 
In a standing position with your arms across your chest, rotate your shoulders around as far as you can without moving your head laterally (Figure 2).  Pause for a second and rotate to the opposite side.  Gradually increase the range of this dynamic stretch as you complete 20 repetitions.

Figure 2

 

Does the timing and co-ordination of your swing feel a little out?

Bishop also says “A physical issue or poor swing concept can produce timing and sequence problems in the swing. The upper body has furthest to rotate in the back swing so should lead the motion followed by the lower half. This is reversed in the downswing. Think of any throwing or hitting motion you have ever performed and you will better understand the correct sequence.”

The following movements work on increasing rotation into both left and right hips and are designed to give you the feeling of improved hip release (for better sequencing) from the top of the back swing.

In figures 3 and 4, imagine your pelvis and spine make up a steering wheel and the column it is attached to.  Turn the steering wheel (your pelvis) to the left and the right in isolation (no lateral movement) to improve the co-ordination and range of motion of your pelvis.  

Figure 3 & 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next exercise (Figure 5) is a lot more advanced, and the previous steering wheel analogy can also be used here.  In the position shown, turn the steering wheel (your pelvis) to the right, pause for 5 seconds then turn to the left.  Your upper body is working hard to stabilise your shoulders and the muscles through your trunk to your pelvis are creating this rotational movement.

Both these exercise are designed to help you dissociate your upper and lower body, important in good swing mechanics.

Figure 5

Does your body move too far laterally throughout your swing?

Lower body strength is imperative in golf.  Bishop says “The lower body is the foundation of the golf swing.  If you lack strength in your lower body you will not be able to provide the stability and balance necessary for your upper body to rotate, which can lead to unwanted lateral movement and inconsistent ball striking”.

Stand with a broomstick across your shoulders, your feet wider than shoulder width apart and your toes turned out 45 degrees.  Squat down and rotate your shoulders, ensuring your back is flat and head focused forward (Figure 6).  Alternate your shoulder turn after each repetition.  In this position your inner thighs (the adductors) are targeted, to help stabilise your lower body throughout the swing and the turn of the shoulders will also help improve the range of your back swing.

Figure 6

 

 
 

 
In the next exercise, lie on your back with your heels up on the ball and raise your buttocks off the ground to form a straight line from your ankles to shoulders (starting position).  Now raise your right leg (about 20 cm) and rotate your pelvis to take your leg over to the opposite side (Figure 7).  Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and return to the starting position; alternate legs.  This more advanced exercise will increase the strength of important muscles around the outside of your hip (like gluteus medius) that resist lateral movement in your swing.

Figure 7

There are two important questions you need to ask yourself: what am I trying to improve in my golf swing, and could this be related to my body’s physical limitations?  To maximise your golfing potential, a golf-specific exercise physiologist will design an exercise program which integrates information from your coach and golf-specific physiotherapist.  If most tour players are doing it to enhance their performance and reduce the likelihood of injury, why shouldn’t you?

Trent Malcolm is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist specialising in golf-specific strength and conditioning.  He consults to the Australian Institute of Sport Golf Program, Women’s Golf Victoria, the Melbourne Golf Injury Clinic and the Sandhurst Club (in association with the PGA of Australia), working with some of Australia’s finest young talent as well as numerous international touring professionals.  He is a regular contributor to Golf Australia magazine and designs golf-specific exercise programs for people online.

For your own personally designed golf-specific exercise regime you can contact Trent via email at tmalcolm@optusnet.com.au or call him on (03) 8707 0830. Visit his new website Active One Golf

Note: Before commencing any conditioning program it is recommended you consult a Medical or Allied Health Professional

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About Brian O'Hare

Brian is the editor and founder of ASG. He is a former Sydney journalist and is now an avid "senior" golfer. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

3 Responses to “Are You Fit For Golf?”

  1. Trent,

    It’s very hard to play excellent golf when your body is not in excellent shape – but its one of the things that can be improved on as you point out in this article.

    You illustrate a couple of stretches that I’ve never tried – but that won’t be for long.

    Thanks for a great article.

  2. Trent says:

    Thanks for your feedback Chris. Even small improvements in physical condition can have quite an impact on golf performance and injury prevention, particularly with flexibility/mobility training for the senior golfer.
    I have found these unique exercises and stretches to be of great benefit to many of my senior golf clientele.
    Try them and tell me what you think!

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