The majority of golfers may never compete in a tournament, shoot under 80 or score a hole in one. Most have the drive to golf better, but the actual purpose is not the thrill of victory, rather the desire to be engaged in an activity. Golf is a competitive sport. What if you don’t keep score, though? To many, it is more than just a game. It is a chance to get outside, breathe in the fresh air, forget about the worries on your mind.
When it comes to golf, walking instead of riding is better for you. “I’ve yet to meet a person that has regretted getting healthier,” says Matthew Rollag – Senior Physical Therapist at Sanford Power. “So I encourage everyone when they have the option choose walking the course vs. riding. You will easily surpass the 10,000 step goal and likely won’t even notice it because you are focused on the challenge of getting that little white ball on the green and into the cup in as few attempts as possible.” It can also be a stress reliever, help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Even if you decide not to walk an entire eighteen, consider walking nine. Walking can increase your energy and stamina, help you reach weight-loss goals, and improve bone strength.
We already spend much of the day sitting–driving to work, at our desk, at the dinner table, and finally to the recliner to watch TV. “All of this sitting can lead to some critical issues related to golf, including tightness in our hip flexors and low back muscles and “inactivity” leading to weakness in our glutes and core muscles,” adds Rollag. “Over time, our bodies will thank us for walking the course and helping reverse the effects of sitting all day.”
The bottom line is golf is exercise, even when using a cart. The golf swing motion of your arms, legs, and torso uses lots of muscles. There’s even some yoga involved when you consider the balancing and the twisting of the torso. Rollag believes a proper warm-up is essential for golfers before playing for several reasons. It reduces the risk of injury and improves accuracy and distance by revving up our nervous system. Our lower, mid, and upper bodies are required to move through different planes of motion at various points in the golf swing. Because of this, Rollag recommends a dynamic warm-up vs. traditional static stretching. A golf-specific dynamic warm-up that he teaches his clients consists of a series of mini lunges while swinging the arms overhead (front to back, side to side, and rotation). This moves the muscles and joints from your feet up to your neck to improve your mobility and balance.
What about after a round of golf? Rollag states, “That is the best time to address previous injuries or critical areas you know have trouble. I would call this a corrective exercise program. It may include various types of stretches, stability, or strengthening exercises.” All of Rollag’s clients undergo a golf-specific body screen to identify limitations that may lead to injury or have been holding them back from playing better golf. They receive a corrective exercise program based on this screen.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the health benefits of spending time outside. “The importance of Vitamin D on our mental health is well established in research,” states Rollag. “The best way to get this is from all-natural sunshine, and that is hard to do if we don’t get outside.” Golf is an enjoyable, lifelong outdoor activity that provides a sense of community as well as a competitive challenge. Not only do adults need the healthy exercise that golf provides, but parents should encourage their children to try the sport and make it a family activity. Invite a friend to join you on the course this year and share the joy of a healthy round.
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