This January 30th through February 5th, over half a million golf fans will flock to TPC Scottsdale to cheer on their favorite players at the 82nd annual Waste Management Open. On the course will be some of the biggest names in golf including Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, and defending champion Hideki Matsuyama—all competing for a $1,206,000 first place check.
While most mere mortals can never hope to play at the same caliber as these golfers, many golf enthusiasts will continue to give their all to the fickle sport until they are no longer able. To excel in the game of golf today takes skill, technique, a bit of luck, and athleticism. It doesn’t matter how incredible your technical game is if you don’t have the strength and flexibility to drive the ball down the fairway. Without proper conditioning, you can increase your chances of injury and the need for pain management down the road.
It may seem like an easy enough sport, but golf injuries are common. Back pain from hunching and rotational stress, shoulder pain and rotator cuff issues, “tennis elbow,” or irritation from inflammation of the elbow’s inner tendon, and knee pain from stabilizing and hip rotation during a swing are all very common ailments that accompany the game.
Golfers can work on the strength and flexibility needed with these easy exercises*:
*Please consult your doctor or physical therapy specialist before starting any kind of exercise routine.
Core muscles affect most movement as well as arm and leg function, so in golf it’s immensely important to have a strong and flexible core. Planking is a great static exercise that can be done anywhere to strengthen the core. To complete a plank, position your body like you’re about to do a push-up, then bend your elbows so your weight is on your forearms with feet together and pelvis down. Your body and back should be flat and in line. If done correctly, your abdominal muscles should feel engaged. Hold this position for 30 seconds or as long as possible, then repeat three times.
Standing Wood Chop
This exercise simulates chopping wood, which is similar in movement to a golf swing and is good for working on torque and flexibility. It can be done using a dumbbell, medicine ball, or on a cable machine. At the down stance, your hands should be positioned by your alternate knee. Lift the weight or cable above your head in one direction, keep your arms straight while rotating the weight up toward the opposite side of your body, bending slightly at the knees. Complete a set of 12 going one direction, then alternate sides. Complete three sets per side.
Dumbbell Raises/ Rotator Cuff Exercises
To avoid rotator cuff tears that could take you away from the game and leave you in need of pain management, incorporate strengthening exercises into your routine. Standing upright and hold light weights in each of your hands. Keeping both arms straight, lift them out in front of you. The weights should be vertical and your knuckles facing outward. Hold for a few seconds, then return your arms to your side. Complete 10 times per set for three sets. Click here for more in-depth information about rotator cuff tears and strengthening exercises.
Lateral lunges improve the range of motion in your hips, which is necessary for a good golf swing. These lunges require no equipment and can be done anywhere. Start standing upright and take a large step to one side, focusing your body weight to that side. Your knee should be bent on the side you stepped to and your other leg should be extended out with your toes pointing forward. Push back up to standing position to complete one. Repeat 10-12 times per set, then alternate sides. Complete three sets per side.