As golf season nears, it’s time to improve your strength and endurance. Not only will this help your swing it will also help to reduce the chance of injury. How do you minimize injury risk and improve golf swing speed at the same time? There are certain resistance exercises which have been shown to assist with year round conditioning specific to golf. The following program focuses on improving muscle endurance and motor control which will aid in achieving muscular stability for the lumbar spine and shoulder region and ultimately prevent injury while improving mechanics.
Each exercise included is supported by the available biomechanical evidence and cross sectional epidemiological evidence.
Training to Improve Spinal Stability and Prevent Low Back Injuries
Spinal stability is achieved by the coordinating contraction of the trunk muscles in order to prevent the spine from buckling. The ability to stabilize the spine is considered necessary in the prevention of low back injuries. It involves the co-contraction of the flexor, extensor and lateral bending trunk muscles. The aim of these exercises is to improve the endurance and strength of these muscles to facilitate their ability to stabilize the spine and improve their ability to produce force during a golf swing.
Golfer lies on back with one knee bent 90 degrees and the second leg straight. Maintain an abdominal brace throughout the exercise. Hands should be placed under the low back to prevent spinal flexion. Golfer “curls” their shoulders 2 inches off the surface. The neck should stay in a neutral position (keep chin slightly tucked). Strain should be experienced in the abdominal region. The golfer should focus on curling the ribcage toward their pelvis. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds and perform 10-20 repetitions, or until fatigue with inability to perform exercise with correct form
Golfer starts on hands and knees. Maintain an abdominal brace throughout the exercise. Keep the spine in a neutral position and your head aligned with the rest of your body. Avoid letting your chin poke out toward the floor. From this four point kneeling position the golfer should extend one leg parallel to the floor, hold for 3 seconds and return to the starting position.
Repeat with other leg. Additionally, the opposite arm can also be raised. The golfer must maintain control of the spine and minimize twisting and excessive movement. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds and perform 10-20 repetitions, or until fatigue with inability to perform exercise with correct form.
Golfer starts in side lying position and raises their torso off the floor. Maintain an abdominal brace throughout the exercise. Their weight should be supported by their knee and their forearm. To increase difficultly support the weight from the forearm and the golfers lateral feet. Hold each position for 3-5 seconds then “roll into the next bridge position, maintaining a neutral spine.
Rolling from the side support position the golfer maintains a neutral spine and supports their weight on their forearms and the balls of both feet. Keep the spine in a neutral position and your head aligned with the rest of your body.
Training to Improve Shoulder Joint Control and Prevent Shoulder Injury
Adequate control of the scapula (shoulder blade) has been suggested to be necessary in the prevention and treatment of shoulder injuries. The primary stabilizers of the scapular couple correctly to prevent instability of the shoulder complex. Those muscles include: serratus anterior, upper, mid, and lower trapezius, rhomboids and rotator cuff muscles. The aim of the scapular stabilization program is to perform exercises which meet the following criteria:
- Train the serratus anterior, while minimizing upper trapezius activity. Increasing the strength of the serratus anterior will decrease scapular winging and increase upward rotation and posterior tipping of the scapula. This allows for adequate space for the clearance of the rotator cuff during elevation of the arm.
- Train the subscapularis muscle (one of 4 rotator cuff muscles) because of its role in positioning the arm in the shoulder socket and its increased activity during the golf swing.
- Train the scapulothroacic muscles (muscles which attach to the thorax and the shoulder blade; trapezius, levator scapula, rhomboids and serratus anterior) to control shoulder blade movement and provide a stable socket for the humerus.
- Train external rotators to position the humerus within the fossa (shoulder joint) and be optimally conditioned for the requirements of the golf swing.
Lower Trap Arm Raise
While lying face down the participant lifts their arm to a position 45 degrees lateral to and at the level of their head. The arm should be in line with the lower trapezius fibres. This exercise trains the trapezius, deltoid, external rotator cuff and rhomboids. Perform 10-20 repetitions
External Rotation (teres minor and infraspinatus)
Using a dumbbell with their arm abducted and elbow flexed, the participant should eccentrically lower the dumbbell (internally rotate) and then raise the dumbbell to the starting position via external shoulder rotation. This exercise trains the external rotator cuff. Golfers should focus on keeping their shoulder blades back and down. Perform 10-20 repetitions
Push Up Plus
The athlete begins in push up position and allows their shoulder blades to “roll together”. The participant, while maintaining a neutral spine, attempts to push themselves up further by pushing the shoulder blades farther apart (Scapular Protraction). This exercise has been shown to maximize serratus anterior & subscapularis activity while minimizing upper trapezius activation. The external rotator cuff is also active. Perform 10-20 repetitions
For more information on how to prepare for golf season please contact Dr. Nekessa Remy at email@example.com