Though the winter may seem endless and unforgiving right about now, let us take it as an opportunity to physically prepare for the upcoming golf season… though really the tips here would benefit other sports such as tennis, hockey and beer league softball.
Golf is a skill sport and skills require practice, so don’t neglect this early in the season. The focus of today however will be on the foundational strength, mobility and aerobic conditioning required for the sport. Although it may not present as much of a strength or aerobic challenge, preparing your body for the golf season is as important as making that birdie putt on the 18th hole.
Pre-season preparation allows you to build-up tolerance to the movements required for golf, build strength BEYOND the needs of the sport, and maximize your aerobic conditioning to reduce the development of fatigue when you play. Though you may not think it to be a considerable factor, your golf swing will DEFINITELY change when you are fatigued, so don’t ignore the treadmill, stationary bike, or stairs. With that in mind, check out these 6 drills to get kick off your pre-season golf program:
Thoracic clock stretch (MOBILITY):
this exercise targets your upper and mid-back rotation potential while trying to restrict your lower back rotation. Rotation is needed in the back swing and follow-through, so completing this on both sides is a great idea. Try to complete 2 sets of 15 repetitions per side. I have also previously referenced this mobility exercising with regards to improving your golf drive distance and power if this interests you (https://bodycotoronto.com/golf-and-back-pain/).
Hip 90/90 Sit (MOBILITY):
This exercise targets your hip rotation and posture control. Hip rotation has been shown to be a key factor in the downswing in professional golfers (1), so why not tap into its potential yourself? The example provided may be quite difficult if you have never attempted this, so to start you can keep your hands on the floor behind you and move your legs back and forth as the video demonstrates. Progress by being taller through the torso which results in decreased reliance on your hands for support and an increased challenge on your posture and hip mobility. Complete 2 sets of 15 as well.
Pallof press with rotation (STRENGTH and MOVEMENT CONTROL):
This exercise was also featured in a previous blog (https://bodycotoronto.com/golf-and-back-pain/). this strengthening exercise is designed to help strengthen the core as you dissociate trunk from pelvic rotation. So try your best to twist with your upper body/torso WITHOUT letting your pelvis and hips rotate with you. 3 sets of 15 repetitions per day would be a good goal, using a resistance that feels challenging over the last 3-5 repetitions of each set. To create a greater challenge you can tie the resistance band at mid-shaft of a golf club. Assume a swing stance at quarter backswing and complete a similar twisting motion between quarter back-swing and quarter follow-through.
The “T-Plank” (CORE and SHOULDER STRENGTH):
Though you may not find yourself in a plank position on the golf course, this exercise will further challenge your core strength, your control of body rotation, and some much needed shoulder stabilization. Though a lot of golfers out there are concerned with lower back pain, shoulder injuries such as rotator cuff tears and instability have also been seen due to the repetitive nature of the sport (2). This exercise can be quite difficult (‘Link 1’), so proceed with caution. Build up to 3 sets of 8-10 for 5 second holds on each side. A more friendly version can be found in ‘Link 2’ (the classic side plank off of the knees).
Single leg romanian deadlift (HIP STRENGTH and BALANCE):
I’m a bit biased with this exercise as I basically think it is beneficial for mostly anyone that can pull it off successfully. It requires not only hip strength and balance but also a fair deal of coordination and core control/strength. The single leg variation may be more application to your lead leg but do yourself a favour and balance out your hip strength by completing it on boths sides. Grab a weight in your hands if the body weight version appears too easy. Go for endurance by aiming to complete 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.
Yes I know, it’s golf. But even if you are riding around in a cart all day you still need to get out, walk, and occasionally go up and down small hills by foot. Don’t underestimate the overall value that aerobic training will provide to your daily activities and your golf game. If you can walk further without fatigue, I think it is safe to assume that your golf swing will MORE LIKELY remain consistent throughout the entire round (think about what your tired, weak legs could do to your drive power…). If you don’t feel like walking at the same pace for an hour or more, and you have been cleared by your doctor to exercise at a higher intensity, try one or more of the following:
- Access to a bike or treadmill?: Try interval training where you increase the work intensity for a brief period (30-60 seconds) followed by a recovery period at a lower intensity (60-120 seconds). Try 5 repetitions of this and build up to 10 repetitions as tolerated.
- Alternative treadmill option: Walk on an incline to mimic hills. You can also structure this workout similar to the interval workout noted above.
- Prefer to walk outdoors?: Why not do intervals outside by walking faster to increase your work rate and slower for your recovery.
Though the above is not an exhaustive list of how you can prepare for the upcoming golf season, hopefully it is a step in the right direction for those itching to get on the course. That being said, if you have concerns regarding your swing, injury, or pains affecting your golf game or exercise, coming in for a detailed biomechanical assessment will bring you one step closer to avoiding injury and improving your bodies tolerance of the sport. Highlighting and resolving biomechanical and strength deficits is something that can’t be done by reading this blog, so please use our expertise appropriately.
Thanks for reading!
Jordan Fortuna, Manager of Clinical Services
Jordan is a graduate of the University of Toronto Physiotherapy program and has since been practicing in orthopaedic settings. He has developed an interest in sports physiotherapy through his many years as an athlete, participating in baseball, golf, snowboarding, and more recently rock-climbing, cycling, and strength training. He has worked with a variety of clientele including athletes from disciplines such as competitive dancing, running, rock-climbing, and mixed-martial arts, as well as non-athletes of a wide age range and ability. Regardless of activity level, he is dedicated to improving mobility, optimizing function, and strengthening to help achieve your goals through the use of an individualized exercise prescription and manual therapy. He also has additional training in acupuncture and sports taping.
- Mun, F., Suh, S.W., Park, H., and Choi, A. Kinematic relationship between rotation of lumbar spine and hip joints during golf swing in professional golfers. BioMedical Engineering OnLine. May 2015; 14(41).
- Kim, D.H., Millett, P.J., Warner, J.J.P., and Jobe, F.W. Shoulder Injuries in Golf. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. July 2004; 32(5): 1324-1330.