To any casual observer, golf may seem to be more of a leisurely weekend activity than a physically demanding sport. Yet the reality is that golf can take a toll on the body, and players need a great deal of muscle control to step up their game and avoid injuries.
At University of Utah Health’s Golf Clinic, Shane Thoreson, DPT, keeps golfers in the game by evaluating their movements and helping them avoid common mistakes. The key, he says, is to first pay attention to the body’s rotation—rather than the force of the swing—when going in for the big shot.
“The intensity of the golf swing can put a great deal of stress on the body when it’s not done right,” Thoreson says. “Not everyone has the same technique, but body rotation should be the first priority, followed by strength and power.”
Don’t Play Through the Pain
Aches and pains are normal for golfers, but if you’re experiencing continuous pain, it’s time to talk to your doctor about physical therapy.
“A little pain that goes away quickly is one thing, but lingering pain needs to be addressed,” Thoreson says. “If you choose to play through the pain, it’s only going to get worse.”
While working with a physical therapist, you can expect to follow a customized program that targets your specific ailment. Common physical therapy programs for golfers include core strengthening exercises, stretching techniques, coaching of body rotation and swing mechanics, and nutrition guidance.
Quick Tips for Keeping Your Body on Par
- Learn the basics: If you’re new to the sport, take a lesson at the local golf course to understand the basics of your swing.
- Don’t forget to stretch: Carve out a little time before and after your game to do some dynamic stretching and practice swings.
- Strengthen your muscles: Try body-weight core exercises such as planks, squats, lunges, and crunches.
- Increase your endurance: Incorporate some cardio exercises into your routine to avoid losing steam halfway through the game.
- Be well equipped: Wear comfortable shoes with traction and don’t buy fitted clubs until you’ve mastered your swing.
- Protect yourself from the great outdoors: Be sure to wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, and fuel your body with nutritious food.
Remember that prevention is the best strategy for staying healthy and injury-free throughout the season. Listen to your body and address your pain so you can stay in the game all summer long.