A Healthy Body for Your Best Golf Game
Some of the most beautiful views of the fall foliage (it will be here sooner than you think) are from the many golf courses throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. Follow these tips from Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Rehabilitation team to bring your summer game into the fall:
- Golf bag weight - Do you really need all of those clubs? PGA/LPGA standards allow for 14 clubs. Consider shedding some wedges or irons in favor of a utility or gap wedge. If you like playing with a full bag, consider getting a pushcart. Your endurance and your handicap may improve when you’re not carrying a heavy bag for 18 holes.
- Grip size - Do you have arthritis or trigger fingers in your hands? Golf grips are typically a moderate diameter, and the sustained grip and strength to control the club can take its toll after 18 holes. If you experience pain or triggering of your fingers, consider increasing the diameter of your grips. Aftermarket “built up” grips can be easily applied either at home or by a specialist. Additionally, consider becoming a “Tommy Two Gloves,” and wearing gloves on both hands. This will increase your traction on the club and decrease the effort needed with your grip.
- Hydration and nutrition - This is very important when playing golf especially when it is humid. Make sure to keep yourself well-hydrated (alcohol doesn’t count); carry a reusable water bottle and drink two full bottles per round. Carry granola bars, jerky and other lightweight sources of protein and carbs to help support your performance.
- UV Protection - Make sure to apply sunscreen before playing a round, and consider reapplying at the turn. Pay attention to the tops and backs of your ears, your hairline and exposed scalp, and the non-glove hand. Your lips are very vulnerable to the sun’s rays so use a lip balm with sunscreen and apply frequently. Protect your eyes with sunglasses. Wear as large of a hat as you can.
Just like any other sport a little bit of preparation can go a long way. Make sure you warm up your body by walking for a few minutes, then performing some gentle stretching before your round. Consider sprinkling these stretches throughout your round. None of these should be painful—there are a way to loosen up muscles and joints that are frequently used in a round of golf.
Trunk stretch: Raise arms overhead and bend elbows. Allow right hand to drop down behind your head and hold right elbow with left hand. Gently bend sideways, elongating right side of your trunk. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on both sides.
Forward bend: Stand with shoulders relaxed, feet shoulder width apart. Tuck chin, then begin “rolling down,” bending forward from the top of your spine; slightly bend your knees to make this more comfortable. Hold for 15 seconds, while taking deep breaths. “Roll up,” straightening from lower back all the way until standing up straight. Repeat on both sides.
Trunk twist: Place one foot on a stable surface, such as a curb or low bench. Place opposite hand on the outside of knee, reaching across your body. Rotate gently at the waist, keeping shoulders relaxed and back straight. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on both sides.
Wrist stretch: With one elbow held slightly bent and alongside body, use opposite hand to apply pressure backwards through palm, stretching wrist and forearm. Use this stretch intermittently through your game to help prevent "Golfer’s Elbow.” Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on both sides.
Golf is more than arm strength. Incorporating lower body and core strengthening exercises will help improve your power and your stamina on the golf course.
Reverse lunge: Hold weight at chest. Step backward. Make sure knee is stable during the lunge (keep the knee over the foot—don’t let your knee fall inward). Complete for 10 reps. Repeat on both sides.
Front plank: Begin lying face down, partially kneeling. Place hands on floor with elbows bent and directly under shoulders as shown. Lift up hips and knees, keeping only toes on floor. Keep back and knees straight. Work up to holding for 60 seconds. Repeat on both sides. To reduce the challenge bend knees and place on the floor.
Side plank: Begin lying on side, legs straight and right hand on the floor near shoulder as shown. Push up with right arm, keeping trunk straights. Raise left arm straight out and above. Work up to holding for 60 seconds. Repeat on both sides. To reduce the challenge: Bend knees and place on the floor.
If you would like to set up a personalized consultation with an occupational or physical therapist, please contact Dartmouth-Hitchcock Rehabilitation Medicine at (603) 650-3600.
By: Aimee Burnett Greely, PT, MPH, and Alison Sanborn, MS, OTR/L.