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Gearing Up For Golf

by Jared McConahy, DPT

As the summer finally gets under way, you may find yourself frequenting the golf course more frequently. Ideally, this provides an awesome © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 3.0opportunity to get some fresh air, spend time with friends, and enjoy the beauty of nature.  However, if you are not adequately prepared to play, golf can have a negative impact on your health . A simple warm-up can go a long way in preventing  pulled muscles or a "tweaked" back. Here are my suggestions for warming up before each round to ensure maximal enjoyment and prevent injury in 5-10 minutes. 
© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY 3.0
Start with stretching 
The golf swing is a dynamic movement and which requires a great deal of force production from your  muscles as you swing your clubs through space. Before you place the high demand of a golf swing on your muscles, it is a good idea to get the tissue lengthened and ready with some gentle, static stretches. I suggest focusing on the the major muscle groups used in the golf swing: hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, calves, lats, pecs, and triceps. 
Hamstrings
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Quadraceps
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Back and Hips
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                          © lululemon athletica / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Chest and Shoulder
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Progress to dynamic challenges
The next step to get yourself ready for the first tee is to begin to add some dynamic stretches or warm-up drills. I suggest using gentle, controlled movements that mimic individual parts of the golf swing. For example, gentle trunk rotations with your feet in a nice athletic stance are a great way to simulate the movement that your spine  must perform throughout the swing. Start by gripping the head of a club in one hand and the grip in the other. Next, turn your trunk back and forth reaching in each direction. Begin with a small range of motion and progressively move faster and through a larger range. Finally, I like to ease into full swinging motions by starting with slow back swings which get incrementally faster and eventually end swinging the club further and further into a full follow-through
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Regular exercise is the best way to stay healthy and to avoid aches and pains associated with golf. Keeping your musculoskeletal system in good shape with regular cardiovascular and weight training exercise is a great way to stay on top of your game and away from pain. As you train for golf (and life in genral) remember to add functional, integrated exercises that simulate the movements used in golf and that target the key muscles that are needed for a golf swing.  If you have any questions or concerns in regards to preparation for golf or other sports, feel free to contact your local Pinnacle physical thearpist or exercise specialist for tips and ideas.