There are an estimated 26.4 million golfers of all ages in the U.S., making it more popular currently than any other time in history. Although golf is considered by many to be a leisure activity, it is a serious athletic pursuit that can produce injury and trauma. In fact, golf is one of the highest injury-producing sports in America. Golf is a game that requires high levels of skill, eye-hand coordination, flexibility and mobility, muscular power, strength and endurance. A fitness program designed by a certified golf training specialist can not only strengthen your body to prevent injury, but improve your game at the same time.
By Jane Riley :: Photography by Kelsey Grudle
Studies show that professional and amateur golfers have similar injury rates, but experience different types of injuries. Professional golfers most often injure their lower backs, followed by the left wrist and left shoulder for right-handed golfers. The elbow is the most common injury site for amateur golfers, followed by the lower back and shoulder. Elbow injuries are also common in female golfers. Lower back injuries occur primarily from overuse and poor mechanics of movement. Nearly 85 percent of injuries to the elbow occur on the lateral aspect of the joint and are likely due to improper mechanics in golfers who lack the strength, mobility and skill to perform a mechanically sound swing. Shoulder pain is also prevalent in both professional and amateur golfers and is usually caused from lack of flexibility and weakness in the rotator cuff which alters swing biomechanics leading to cumulative trauma. Other causes of shoulder pain include shoulder impingement and damage to the labrum of the shoulder joint.
In order for a golf swing to be as proficient as possible, the entire human movement system — the nervous system, the articular system, the skeletal and muscular systems — must possess proper amounts of strength, power, stability, flexibility and neuromuscular control. Training for golf proficiency must include flexibility, the core, balance, plyometrics, resistance training and sport-specific cardio-respiratory training.
Through golf-specific training programs like rotational power training, club head speed can be increased significantly, adding length to the drive without costing accuracy. Specific exercises are required to increase upper torso axial rotational velocity, increasing club head speed and driving distance. Using a multifaceted approach as part of a progressive exercise system can show results such as improving club head speed, decreasing golf trajectory errors and reducing total golf score in just a few weeks.
Another important factor in golf performance is explosive force, meaning that one is capable of moving the club with speed and power to create powerful shots. Exercise can increase power output by training the muscles to do more work in a shortened period of time using the stretch-shortening cycle. This is best noted in the back-swing. The shorter the amount of time between the end of the eccentric stretch action and the concentric contraction, the greater the potential energy transfer. Working on stabilization, strength, core strength and neuromuscular efficiency helps control the time between the eccentric and concentric contraction.
Certified golf training specialists can have the most profound effect on golf performance for their clients. TRX and Rip Training exercises are considered foundational for increasing golf performance, and the Fitness Center offers private and semi-private training on these game-changing modalities. Call Jane Riley at 808.212.8119 to schedule a session.
Jane Riley, Ed.D., M.S., B.A., is the Fitness and Wellness Director at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 808.212.8119.