Clients at our Toronto physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics who are also avid golfers often ask for advice on the mechanics of their swing. Proper form is certainly important for playing any sport. It's your protection against injury and overuse, as well as making sure you have the opportunity to perform at your best.
However, pain and other signs of discomfort, however mild, can point to another common root cause: lack of specific physical conditioning.
The nature of golf
Golf is what physical therapists call "ballistic", and entails some unique characteristics and challenges.
- It involves sudden bursts of concentrated effort.
- It involves one side of the body much more than the other when it comes to your swing.
- It is as much about strength as it is flexibility and coordination.
Various muscle groups come into play, and working on strength and flexibility in those areas can give your game an edge.
When it comes to exercises, it's useful to think about the mechanics of the game.
- The core is crucial to your golf swing – it must be strong, yet flexible.
- The connecting muscles and structures in your stomach, hips, lower back and butt need to be equally strong and work together seamlessly.
- Shoulder and arm strength is another area that will help to improve your swing.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget your stretches too.
1. Medicine ball parallel & perpendicular throws (1 set of each, 10 throws, each side)
Your swing speed should improve with this exercise, as well as your core strength and flexibility.
- In parallel mode, you'll stand facing a solid wall.
- Holding the medicine ball at waist level, rotate your trunk away from the wall.
- Throw the ball at the wall with your hips first, then trunk, then arms.
- Let the ball bounce once and catch it with one hand underneath, one hand behind, and repeat.
- In perpendicular mode, you'll stand at a 90-degree angle to the wall
- Rotate your torso 90-degrees away from the wall.
- Then, you'll rotate a full 180-degrees to throw the ball at the wall.
- Catch it on the rebound and repeat.
2. T-hip rotations (1 set, 6 rotations, each side)
Being able to separate your hip movements from your upper body at the start of the downswing is something that will set your swing free. This exercise also stretches the torso muscles.
- In this exercise, you'll start by standing on one leg (the right let's say).
- Holding on to a chair or the back of a couch with the right hand, place the left hand behind your head, with the elbow pushed back.
- Bend forward at the hip until you are in a T position, with your torso and left leg in a straight line parallel to the floor.
- Now, turn your hip and shoulder towards the left, pushing your left elbow towards the ceiling. You should feel a stretch through your hip.
- Hold for 1 second, then go back to the T position.
3. Drop step lunge (1 set, 6 reps, each leg)
This exercise helps to build strength as well as stability across your body, particularly in the hamstrings and glutes.
- You'll start standing with your feet together and your arms loosely at your sides.
- Step forward and to the right with your left foot, over your right leg, and bending your knee at a 90-degree angle while keeping your shin straight.
- Your right leg is stretched behind you.
- Hold for 1 second and return to your starting position.
4. Weights for arm & shoulder strength (2 sets, 12-20 reps each)
Naturally, arm and shoulder strength is crucial to being an effective and successful golfer. If you need any advice on form or an exercise program tailored to your condition, our Toronto physiotherapists or chiropractors have the answers.
- Lateral raises – these work the middle shoulder
- Shoulder flexion – to strengthen the front of the shoulder
- Reverse fly – to work the muscles in the rear portion of the shoulder
- Bicep curls – this basic exercise strengthens the muscles along the front of your arm
- Tricep kickbacks – to strengthen the muscles at the back of your upper arm
5. Glute bridges (1 set, 10 reps)
This is a great way to work the glutes, and is especially helpful if you spend your workday largely sitting down.
- Lie on the floor face up, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Roll up a towel, and squeeze it between your raised knees.
- Push your hips and glutes up off the ground.
- Only your shoulders and feet should be left on the floor.
- Lower your hips back to the ground and repeat.
Physical conditioning may not be emphasized as much in golfing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Improving your strength and flexibility can certainly give your game a boost.
If you have questions about sports conditioning, or want to talk about exercising in your situation, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics for a consultation.