Golf fitness is nothing new. Tiger Woods was probably one of the first big-name golfers to popularize strength training, and it has since caught on like wildfire with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and others. However, professionals are not the only golfers who can benefit from strength training. Everyday golfers may actually benefit more.
Here are four ways to improve your golf fitness so you can up your game and stay pain-free.
1. Increase your mobility
One of my favorite golf movies is Happy Gilmore. According to Chubbs, "It's all in the hips." I totally agree; however, I would amend the quote to read "It's all in the hips and thoracic spine." Not as catchy, I know, but hear me out. Stereotypically, recreational golfers are business people who either sit at their desks or in their cars for hours every day. With all the iPhones, iMacs, iPods, and iWhatevers, our posture has become atrocious. Our shoulders are rounded, we have a huge forward-head lean, and we look like hunchbacks of Notre Dame. Our mothers are ashamed. All of the research shows that sitting down is terrible. Because of all the sitting we do, we can't move our hips well, which means we aren't able to transfer our weight. In turn, we lose power.
Better Hips = Better Power
Lack of mobility in the hips also causes lower-back pain. If you cannot rotate your hips correctly, you compensate by rotating your lower back, which isn't made to rotate; it's made to be stable.
As for the upper half of the body, the lack of mobility is much more evident. This will actually change your golf swing with things such as early extension and other compensations (contact your local TPI professional, who can teach you more about that.) When you constantly sit with bad posture, your upper back becomes weaker, and your chest becomes super tight. By increasing the mobility in your t-Spine (mid-back) and stretching out your chest, you can get into proper position for an ideal golf swing.
Like I mentioned before, your low back should be stable. If you have low-back pain, chances are your hip mobility or thoracic spine mobility is junk.
Think of it as an alternating pattern of mobility vs. stability. If one joint doesn't do its job correctly, another area will compensate and create pain. Get everything doing its proper job, and you will be pain-free.
Here are three great drills to start with for hip mobility:
- Foam Rolling
- Spiderman Steps
- Pigeon Stretch
2. Get stronger
I'm not just talking about your Bench, Bro. Two areas specifically tend to be weaker than they should be—your gut and your butt. Again, this comes from sitting more than you should.
From hours and hours of sitting, we tend to "forget" how to use our backside to initiate movements. This involves a brain and body connection, but that is better left for another day. The short and skinny of it is that you need to wake up your backside. One of my favorite tools for this is a mini-band. They are super cheap and super effective. Mini-band movements can target your gluteus medeus, which most people feel as the outside of their hip. When your glutes aren't firing as well they need to be, certain things falter: hinging patterns won't happen effectively; your Squats will look funky; and bridging will be difficult.
Here are three of my favorite "activations" to awaken your booty.
Going back to the "Do your job" motto, we need to get your core doing its job.
Your core needs to be stable. Meaning, you want to be able to keep your midsection strong while moving your extremities. Since golf is a rotational sport, anti-rotation core training can make a huge difference in your game. (Anti- means stopping or being able to resist rotation.)
Here are three anti-rotation core exercises you should be doing:
3. Move more often
Once you get moving in the gym, it's easier to keep going. If you are sedentary, it is more difficult to start being active. So get moving and stay moving. Whether you take a yoga class, do resistance training a couple days a week or take the dog for a daily walk—if you do it regularly, it will be easier to keep doing it.
4. Find a coach
Everybody needs a coach. Whether it's a TPI medical professional or golf professional, a sport psychologist, a strength coach, a lifestyle coach, dietician, a whatever coach—it doesn't matter. Pick the most important thing that will get you to your goal, and get a coach. Was Phil Jackson a better basketball player than Jordan? No, but did Jackson make Jordan a better player? Yes. Trust me, you're not too good or too advanced for a coach. Nobody is.
Finding a good coach is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A coach will keep you accountable and on track and be honest with you. Trusting someone to help you attain your goals can be a little unsettling, and finding the right person can be a little challenging. So do your due diligence, call in any favors you may have, and network as much as you need to.
If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to having the best season of your life on the course, and you'll improve your overall quality of life in the process. If you have any follow-up questions or would like help finding a coach near you, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock