Golf has become increasingly popular over the last few decades, due to the rise of Tiger Woods and of late, huge hitters of the ball like Bryson DeChambeau.
In the Newcastle and Hunter area, we are surrounded by so many golf courses, that can cater to beginners, high handicappers, hackers, experienced players, amateurs and professionals alike. From inner Newcastle courses such as Newcastle Golf Club, Charlestown Golf Club, Shortland Waters and Merewether Golf Club, to those outside of Newcastle including Horizons Golf Resort, Hunter Valley Golf & Country Club, Pacific Dunes, Belmont Golf Club, The Vintage, Cypress Lakes and more. I could have kept going, however we are too spoiled for choice and you get the picture!
Golf is truly one of only a handful of sports you can play socially or competitively at nearly any age. In the past and quite possibly at present, some view golf as a leisurely game, not requiring a great level of fitness and with little or no risk of injury. There is no impact, no running – what could go wrong, right? However, this is definitely not the case.
The game has changed as many sports have, with exercise and sports science, a greater emphasis on strength and strength training. Even with this change, there is and always has been the chance to golfers of any level and at any age group.
If you take the Physiotherapy approach, you’re in good company. We suggest these simple measures to help you avoid back pain or injury and improve your game:
Purchase equipment that fits:
Don’t try to adapt your swing to the wrong clubs: A taller person over six foot plus playing with irons designed for someone five inches shorter is begging for back trouble.
For the women in golf:
If you have “inherited” your husband’s or significant other’s golf clubs, they might be difficult for you to use. Not only are the clubs often too long, but the shaft is often not flexible enough for a woman’s swing speed and the grip too wide for their hands. Women typically play better with clubs that are composed of lighter, more flexible material, such as graphite.
Female golfers should use clubs suited to them.
For the men in golf:
It is a good idea to spend some extra time performing quality stretches-before and after your game-to increase your trunk flexibility. While men are traditionally stronger than women, they usually aren’t as flexible. Men need to improve their flexibility to maintain a more even and consistent swing plane and thus improve the likelihood of more consistent performance.
For senior golfers:
If you show some signs of arthritis in the hands, consider a larger, more specialised grip for added safety and performance. Also, with a reduced swing speed, looking at more flexible “senior” flex shafts will be a good option.
For all golfers:
For some, scores may not be as important as enjoying the social benefits of the game. Having clubs that are comfortable will increase the chances of playing for a long time without significant physical limitations.
Learning proper swing technique is critical. At the end of the swing, you want to be standing up straight; the back should not be twisted.
Lessons can be great for your swing, and your posture.
Warm up before each round:
Stretching before and after 18 holes is the best way to reduce post-game stiffness and soreness. Take a brisk walk to get blood flowing to the muscles; then do a set of stretches. To set up a stretching and/or exercise routine, see a Physio who can evaluate your areas of tension and flexibility.
Like any sport, athletes should warm up and warm down.
Pull, don’t carry, your golf bag:
Carrying a heavy bag for 18 holes can cause the spine to shrink, leading to disk problems and nerve irritation. If you prefer to ride in a cart, alternate riding and walking every other hole-bouncing around in a cart can also be hard on the spine.
Carrying a heavy bag can be hazardous, so can just riding in a cart!
Keep your entire body involved:
Every third hole, take a few practice swings with the opposite hand to keep your muscles balanced and even out stress on the back.
Drink lots of water:
Dehydration causes early fatigue, leading you to compensate by adjusting your swing, thus increasing the risk of injury. Lots of golfers enjoy a beer on the course, we aren’t going to say no you shouldn’t, however it isn’t something advisable. If you do it, do it in moderation and mix it up with water in between drinks. Alcoholic beverages while golfing and smoking as well, both cause loss of fluid. Be extra careful on hot days!
Don’t dehydrate while out of the course. Drink plenty of water.