PREPARING YOUR BODY FOR GOLF SEASONBy Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
Warmer weather signals the start of summer and golfers can’t wait to get on the course to start their season. Good preparation can go a long way in helping to avoid and/or minimize the chances of suffering a muscle or joint injury while playing golf. Included below are some tips to improve your game and prevent the pain!
1. Prepare physically by including flexibility and strengthening exercises as part of your training and practice routine. Muscles act as important shock absorbers and help prevent strains and sprains of vulnerable regions such as the back, along with the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, and knee joints.
2. Warm-up and cool-down both before and after your game. Include gentle stretching and range of motion exercises, as well as a brisk walk or gentle jog to loosen the muscles and joints.
3. Nourish your body by staying hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your game and steer clear of caffeine and alcohol as they further dehydrate you. Dehydration affects your energy level and your physical functioning. Consider bringing nutritious snacks to help maintain your blood sugar levels during play.
4. Use a wheeled golf cart for carrying heavy clubs. Alternate every hole by pushing or pulling your golf cart to help prevent cumulative strain on your body. If you must carry your golf bag, use both shoulders straps. This will spread the weight across a greater area. If there is only one strap, alternate sides frequently. If you find that your bag is getting too heavy, put it down and take a break.
5. Prepare for the elements. Golf requires long periods of standing. Choose a golf shoe that fits comfortably while providing adequate support. This may help prevent knee, hip, and lower back pain. To protect from sun exposure, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brim hat. Wear loose and comfortable clothing. Know your physical limits. Playing too much too soon is one of the most common causes of golf injuries, so build your tolerance and pace yourself.
6. Whether it is your golf clubs or your golf swing, golf can be a very technical sport. Ensure that your clubs are the right height and grip. Select irons with large heads and graphite shafts to lessen vibration. Adopting a golf swing based on your physical and biomechanical capacity is important. Take lessons to learn the correct swing technique and avoid unnecessary injuries. A golf professional can help you with club selection and technique.
In the event that you suffer a muscle or joint injury while golfing that does not subside, you should contact a licensed health professional. For more information, visit www.nhwc.ca. The author credits the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) in the preparation of this educational information for use by its members and the public.
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only. It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.