Fitness. It seems to be a word that is cropping up everywhere we look.
Some of us shudder at the sheer thought of it and others embrace it. Like a lot of things in life, our relationship with sport and fitness most likely comes from experiences in our childhood.
But the fact that you’re reading this article, means that you’re probably already involved in some kind of activity, most likely golf, which is fantastic!
I want people to understand that fitness doesn’t have to be about pumping iron and going through blood, sweat and tears to get a ‘beach body’ or complete your local half marathon. It’s really about movement. The human body is designed to move.
Movement is key
Golf definitely ticks the movement box. However, it is a specific way of moving. This game that we play, or try to play, is a frustrating one.
It doesn’t matter what level you get to, it will always find a way to push your buttons.
However, although we may not be able to control our golf ball, we can control how we prepare our bodies to hit it.
Can you honestly say that you give yourself the best possible chance to play well?
Do you warm up for example? And I’m not talking about a coffee and a bacon roll.
I’m talking about preparing your body to make the dynamic and explosive movement that is the golf swing.
We’ve all done it. Driven into the car park, taken our clubs out of the boot and marched straight on to the 1st tee.
You take a couple of practice swings and proceed to ‘smash’ your driver up the fairway (hopefully)!
Poor body, it’s gone from being completely sedentary to being expected to deliver a square club head at 70-100mph. OK, so maybe you bent down to put your golf shoes on, but that doesn’t count as a warm up either.
Come on guys, lets be realistic here. If you owned a racehorse and entered it into a race, would you send it out cold expecting it to perform well? Treat your body as you would that racehorse. Nurture it, train it and look after it. It’s all about longevity at the end of the day.
In order to live our lives without discomfort, pick up our screaming children, do the washing, hoover the house, do the gardening, walk our beloved pets, or swing a golf club consistently for 65 shots (ok 80 shots), we need to be able to move efficiently.
We take our bodies for granted until something gives way and we start to suffer pain. Then we become inactive because of the pain. It’s a vicious circle.
If we look after ourselves, prepare our bodies for life and the activities we do, we can continue to do the things we love for a lot longer.
We would rely less on pain killers for bad knees or bad backs and spend less time on the treatment table or at the doctor’s. We’d save so much time and money, just by investing in ourselves.
Fitness for golf
I’d like to explain the importance of being ‘fit for golf’ and take you through the six elements to becoming a better golfer.
I will also share with you a few exercises to help you prepare your body for golf as a warm up routine prior to playing and practicing.
There are a few things you can do at home too that will not only aid in your mobility in the golf swing, but are also essential from a non-golfers point of view.
Once you get into the routine of doing these exercises, it’ll become a daily habit. It’s a positive way to start your day, helping you to wake up your body and feel ready for the day ahead.
In this post I will be focusing on the importance of posture in the golf swing.
The golf swing is posture driven. This means that if we have solid foundations we can start to build a reliable, repeatable and consistent golf swing.
If our posture is poor, we are setting ourselves up for potential injuries.
From posture we can then focus on flexibility, balance and core strength, without these we can’t apply the strength and power efficiently.
Exercises to improve your posture
Three thumb reverse fly
Benefits: To strengthen the shoulder blades and upper back (scapula & rhomboids) to improve posture in the golf swing. The rhomboids are some of the weakest muscles as we don’t activate them enough.
- Lie face down on the floor and extend your arms out to the side to create a T-shape with the body.
- Raise your head and shoulders off the floor but keep your eyes looking down at the floor. This is to allow your spine to be in a straight line.
- 1st thumb position: Make a fist and point the thumbs down into the floor. Raise the arms and pinkies up to the ceiling and squeeze the shoulders blades together. Then lower the arms down to the starting position.
- 2nd thumb position: Thumbs pointing forward, thus having the back of the hands pointing to the ceiling and repeat the same movement with the arms.
- 3rd thumb position: Thumbs pointing up to the ceiling and again squeeze those shoulder blades together.
- Do the exercises slowly and controlled and pause briefly when squeezing the shoulder blades together.
- Repeat each position five times.
Glute bridge into single leg extension
Benefits: This isolates and strengthens the buttocks. It’s also fantastic for strengthening the hamstrings, lower back and core muscles. Extending a leg helps to even out any strength imbalance in these areas. If you’re not able to keep the hips up and level, there’s definitely a weakness present.
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your arms down by your side. Make sure your feet and knees are together.
- Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Raise your hips up off the floor so that your knees, hips and shoulders are all in a straight line (no need to raise your hips any higher. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then lower back down, keeping the move slow and controlled.
- Repeat this movement 15 times.
- Once you are comfortable with this move you can start to extend a single leg at the top of the movement. Keep the knees in line and extend one leg out. Hold for two seconds and then return the foot back to the floor before lowering the hips back down.
- Raise the hips up again and extend the other leg.
- Repeat this 10 times on each side.
Benefits: This is an essential exercise to strengthen the core muscles and stabilise the spine. It requires good coordination, balance and mobility. Whilst controlling the movement of the arm and leg simultaneously it is also strengthening the buttocks, lower back, shoulders and upper back.
- Place your hands shoulder width apart and set the shoulder blades down (make sure your shoulders aren’t up by your ears). Position your knees directly below your hips, hip width apart. Make sure your back is in a neutral and level starting place.
- Raise the opposite arm and leg simultaneously in a controlled movement so that they are parallel to the ground.
- The hips and shoulders should stay level (not twisting round). Pause for a couple of seconds before lowering down.
- Raise the other arm and leg and keep alternating for 10 repetitions if you can.
About the author
Charlotte says: “Following six years playing on the Ladies European Tour I was forced to retire due to a forearm problem. I understand the frustrations of injury and I wouldn’t wish anyone a life limited by their health, professionally or in their daily lives.
After qualifying to become a personal trainer, I wanted to combine my love and knowledge of the game with helping others to achieve their fitness goals. Getting our body’s moving correctly and in turn ready for golf or any other sport has huge health benefits for life in general.
Health is the new wealth!”
Charlotte Ellis is a personal trainer at Personal Best healthcare practice and training studio in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
For more information visit www.personalbeststudio.co.uk