Many studies have examined problems that may cause injuries in golf. Studies suggest using a bag cart and performing a 10-minute warm-up before the round reduces injuries. Others have identified that increased hip flexibility can be beneficial. Additional factors that increase the risk of sustaining a sports-related injury include decreased static trunk strength, delay in trunk muscle recruitment, and limited trunk endurance.
Evidence has demonstrated that strength training programs specifically affect performance in golf. Performing a warm-up of windmills, trunk twists, static stretching, and air swings with a club for can increase the golfers’ club head speed. Using a functional training program that includes flexibility, core stability, balance, and basic resistance exercises can decrease your chances of injuries.
For golfers, a lack of flexibility in the hip flexors and limitations of internal rotation can cause injuries to the low back. Golfers should perform daily stretching of the hip flexors and internal rotation of the hip (Meira 2010). It may be useful to stretch for trunk rotation and basic overall shoulder flexibility as well, given that these areas are used the most in golf. Stretching could be performed for 1 set of 30 seconds at least once a day (Meira 2010). Static stretching during warm-up has been shown to be detrimental to performance, it is important to do a dynamic warm up before you play, such as trunk twists and walking knee to chest.
Although golf is known as a game dominated by technique, many studies have shown that strength training may be helpful in not only preventing injuries but also having a great effect on performance (Meira 2010). Almost all of the major muscles are active during the golf swing. It is important build overall strength before starting functional training. A basic routine addressing all major muscle groups should be the main focus for the program. Leg exercises could include a combination of front squats and dead lifts. Upper body exercises such as the bench press and rows while including scapular stabilizers and rotator cuff (Statue of Liberty exercise). A flexible bar overhead is palpating for 30 seconds while holding the arm statically against a resistance band or tubing. Because muscular endurance capacity is a major factor in golf all exercises should be performed in the 15-repetition range, focusing on maintenance of form. The higher demand on the trunk during the golf swing requires specific core stability exercises, such as planks and rotations. The ability to hold the plank position for 60 seconds is ideal for the amateur golfer.
When looking at a movement analysis, the golf swing can be described as a power movement. Total swing time is 1.21 ± 0.14 seconds for PGA Tour players (Meira 2010). Power should be a emphasis of any golf training program. A delay in muscle recruitment is common in golfers with low back pain (Meira 2010). Power exercises are quick movements for short durations against resistance. Although sport-specific trunk plyometrics have been effective for golfers, Olympic lifts may be useful. The power snatch, power clean, and push jerk not only increases explosiveness but may increase coordination and control throughout the body. Power lifts are often added progressively as simpler free-weight exercises are mastered. The push jerk is taught first, followed by the clean, because the form is common for most athletes. For advanced or elite golfers, the power required for the snatch may be a competitive advantage. Understanding swing mechanics is very important when training golfers. Golf instructors will tell you that most success in golf comes from hitting the ball well. A golfer who hits the ball well will always outdrive a golfer who simply hits it hard. As a result of participating in a strength training program, the golfer will be able to swing the club harder while still maintaining control.
- Meira EP, Brumitt J. Minimizing injuries and enhancing performance in golf through training programs. Sports Health. 2010 Jul;2(4):337-44.
Written by Chris Barber, CPT