Driving a ball into the stratosphere requires power behind your swing. And doing so without over-stressing your spine, among other vulnerable joints, requires strong muscles and a flexible body. Power comes not only from strong arms, but strong muscles throughout your core—from your back and abs to your butt and thighs. And maintaining balance from start to finish is the key to controlling and executing a powerful swing. So, a golf workout plan should incorporate exercises that address all these needs. Before starting new golf exercises, you should consult your local Indianapolis chiropractor to evaluate your spine health. Here at Meridian Chiropractic we have developed specific exercises to target muscle and joints used in a golf swing.
Traditionally, golfers didn’t exercise much because golf training focused on refining swing technique rather than physical fitness. Research in recent years has shown, however, that including fitness training into golf practice can dramatically enhance performance. A 2007 study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research had 15 male golfers who played recreationally two to three times a week undergo a series of fitness and biomechanical evaluation tests. Then they participated in an eight-week conditioning program that included exercises to increase mobility in the upper body and increase stability in the lower body by improving balance and hip strength. Moves to improve flexibility in the hips, torso and shoulders were also included. Swings were simulated with the added resistance of exercise bands.
At the end of the workout program, statistically significant fitness improvements were seen, including increased torso rotation strength and improved range of motion in the shoulders, hips and torso. Balance improved, too. In some sports studies, it’s sometimes the case that aspects of fitness improve, but actual sports performance does not. But in this case, after only two months of golf-specific workouts, the golfers played better. They experienced changes in swing mechanics that the researchers suggested might have helped produce a more efficient transfer of power from the club to the ball. Club head and ball speed increased over 5 percent, carry distance improved by over 7 percent, and the total distance increased by nearly 7 percent.
Keep in mind that it’s not only the training you do in your off-time that can make a big difference in how well you play, it’s what you do on game day. Many people head straight for the first hole without warming up. A few feeble practice swings isn’t enough to lubricate the joints and warm up the muscles to get ready for the powerful swings ahead. So it’s a good idea to warm up with mobility movements for five to 10 minutes before you start to play.
Begin with some low-key cardio—walk, step on a bench, or hop on a cardio machine—for at least five minutes. Then do range-of-motion exercises to improve how well your joints move: Rotate your wrists, shoulders and neck slowly. Then perform a slow-motion swing without a club to increase mobility in your torso. It’s debatable whether you need to stretch before your game, since some research suggests that warming up and mobilizing the joints is more beneficial for performance than deep stretches. But if you want to follow up a round with stretches, choose those that target your chest, back, hips and glutes.