Calling golfers and weekend warriors: Lower your golf score, prevent shoulder and back injuries, and learn how swing and chip with more stability and power. How? By adding a simple warm-up before you play golf, and performing upper-body and postural stretches afterward, you can safely stimulate the heart and lungs and prepare your muscles and joints for the work ahead.
There were nearly 29 million golfers above the age of six in the United States last year, according to the National Golf Foundation (NGF). The best part about golf — and there are many reasons to be devoted — this is a universal sport, which means just about anyone can play at any age, making golf a life-long healthy hobby enjoyed by millions every weekend.
It’s also the perfect activity to embrace on your next spa visit, because you have extra time to focus and not get frustrated.
I am a terrible golfer, but I yearn to improve — so twice a year I purchase a golf lesson to improve my swing, which is also quite terrible.
Interestingly, studies show a 5- to 10-minute warm-up before initiating your golf game results in a safer, gradual increase in heart rate and blood flow, cardiac output and breathing rate, according to research from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
This translates to more efficient oxygen exchange between the blood and muscles, and carbon dioxide elimination is enhanced. When you warm-up and cool-down effectively, you experience an improvement in energy that allows you to work out longer at the higher end of your heart rate. Coaxing stiff muscles and joints gradually onto the green is even more important for occasional exercisers, or those “weekend warriors,” who tend to exercise intensely all weekend, but then do little or no exercise during the week to remain supple or flexible.
I can use all the help I can get:
Warm-up for golf: Walk in place or run around cones, do a combination of imaginary golf swings and shoulder shrugs to warm-up the arms and shoulders. Take a few practice swings (with and without a club) in order to prepare for the workload ahead.
Sun Salutations: This series of yoga warm-up exercises help to massage your muscles before any sport, including most racquet sports.
Cooldown stretches: After your game — no matter what your golf handicap is — hold a Downward Dog Pose (cool-down photo at right) and a Child’s Pose for a few minutes to stretch out and you’ll be all set to Bogey your Birdie or Birdie your Bogey…or something like that.
Generally, it will help your game and your posture to perform a few minutes of stretching afterward. Try side reaches and few simple forward bends to fortify your game and prevent future back injuries (a basic forward bend is shown in the “stretch for golf” photo) .