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Preventing Golf Injuries
Part One – Basic Prevention Tips

Nick Faldo once described the golf swing as “the turning of the upper body against the resistance of the lower body back and through”. To hit the ball a longer distance, Jack Nicklaus advices, “Keep your back against the target as long as possible”.

There is no doubt about it. The golf swing is an explosive, some say unnatural, athletic movement that places quite a bit of stress on the major joints of the body.

It has been said the more golf you play, the more chances you will experience some type of injury. Pro golfers play the most and golf-related injuries are a way of life on the tournament circuit. However, many injuries can be avoided or minimized by keeping fit, taking basic precautions and by practicing correct body alignment.

Get fit to play your sport. Do not play your sport to get fit. At the barest minimum, stay strong and flexible with a simple exercise program. No time to go to the gym? Follow the example of Gary Player who would often do his basic program of calisthenics, stretching, and free weights in his hotel room.

No time to workout? Try the time-efficient program used in Dr. Wayne Westcott’s pioneering experiment with amateur and professional golfers. The 30-minute twice-or-thrice-a- week program consists of 15 strength exercises and six stretches.

According to Westcott, “These 15 exercises address almost all of the muscles involved in the golf swing including those that produce driving power (leg groups), those that transfer power from the legs to the upper body (midsection and lower back groups), those that produce the swinging action (torso groups), those that provide club control (arm groups), those that provide club grip (forearm groups), and those that maintain head stability (neck groups).” For the complete details, go to http://www.healthy.net/scr/column.asp?id=371

If you have more time, include exercises from yoga for greater flexibility and balance and Pilates or stability ball training for improved core strength and rotation.

In golf, like other sports, some muscles will be overused and others will underused. Both conditions can lead to injury. To make matters worse, golfers constantly swing only in one direction. This just underscores the importance of having a solid exercise program to act as a “foundation” upon which to play your game with improved performance and decreased risk of injury.

Build up your golf time gradually to avoid the “too much, too soon” syndrome. Don’t try to cram in three straight days of practice before a tournament. All those hours spent on the driving range and the golf course have to be balanced out with rest periods to give muscles and joints time to recuperate.

Warm up before your game to increase joint mobility, loosen up tight muscles, and improve your score. Don’t “waste” the first few holes by using them as your warm-up.
Warming up does not mean doing a few token static stretches. It means doing dynamic movements that simulate how your muscles and joints are going to be used in the game.

Here is a sample warm up exercise by golf fitness expert Mike Pederson for PGAProfessional.Com: “Arm circles” increase blood flow to shoulders and prepare shoulders for a full range of motion swing that is fluid, easy, and effortless on the first tee.

Raise arms out to side. Start with small circles with your hands and gradually increase. Hands should feel light. Keep speed of movement moderate. After 15 seconds switch directions and repeat. Complete each direction twice.

For the complete list of warm up instructions and benefits to your game, log on to http://www.pgaprofessional.com/golf_tips_warmup.html

Next week: A joint-by-joint look at preventing golf injuries.

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