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Fitness for Golf

If you play golf you may think that just playing is enough to keep yourself in trim but it may well be more useful than you think to design and follow a golf specific fitness and training regime. While golf may seem at times to be a rather sedate activity, if it is played seriously it involves the whole of the body in swinging the club, not just the arms and shoulders. Since the whole body is required to be strong, fit and coordinated to fulfil the demands of a successful golf swing it makes sense to train the whole body to prepare for this.

The whole body integrated nature of the golf swing means that the exercises should be designed with the same integrated motor patterns in mind, for example instead of performing isolated abdominal movements for each individual abdominal muscle a combined flexion and rotation movement on a gym ball would be more appropriate. Since the golf swing puts the body in relatively extreme positions the exercises should also be angled towards those ends of the movements, a thing which is rarely done in exercise design.

The quadriceps are an important muscle to train but the seated extension movement is a very unnatural and non-functional position, with the squat exercise with a gym ball a much more functional exercise. This relates the exercise much more closely to golf where the position is standing and where the knees may move into small degrees of squat through the swing positions. However, just doing an exercise does not mean that the benefits of the exercise, whatever they are, will actually transfer to the golf game.

The whole programme will need to be coordinated so that all aspects of fitness are covered such as flexibility, coordination, strength, endurance, core stability and good proprioception from the joints. Then this very varied regime needs to be integrated into a whole so the body as a unit is trained in the way that occurs on the golf course. The order in which the training is done is also of great importance, as insufficient flexibility can mean that strength training may be inappropriate before the lack of movement is addressed. Lack of flexibility in enabling the full swing of the thorax and shoulders can limit the benefits obtained from intensive core stability training. A physiotherapist can choose the exercises to ensure that they go through the full ranges and develop strength in the positions required.

Author: Jonathan Blood-Smyth