The game of golf is growing in popularity and becoming more mainstream as a sport. Consequently, more and more of your clients may be hitting the greens, or at least teeing off at your local Top Golf. To help them up their game and avoid injury, there are a number of exercises that can improve golf-specific skills and reduce the risk of common golf injuries.
Common Golf Injuries
The most common golf injuries are related to flaws in technique, and also to overall fitness:
- Low back pain: Failing to transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot as you swing your club can lead to low back pain.
- Rotator cuff strains or tears: Failure to transfer weight can also cause you to use your shoulders and thoracic spine to create club head speed, placing stress on your rotator cuff.
- Wrist and hand sprains and fractures: Poor trunk rotation and failure to engage your core can overload your wrists and hands, leading to strains and sprains. A rare injury unique to golf is a fracture of the hook of hamate, located on the ulnar side of your wrist.
- Golfer’s elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and tennis elbow (medial epicondylitis): Too much wrist action in your back swing causes excessive eccentric contraction of your lead arm and concentric contraction of your opposing forearm, leading to stress on both sides of your elbow joint.
- Knee pain: The unique characteristics of the golfer’s stance can put stress on your knees if the supporting structures are weak, causing pain and increasing your injury risk.
Best Golf Exercises
General overall fitness is foundational to any sport, including golf. A strong core and optimal functional range of motion go a long way toward skills execution and injury prevention.
There are also a number of exercises that enhance golf skills performance. Here are the some of the best:
- Planks: Core strength is key to any sport, especially sports like golf, tennis and baseball that rely on efficient load transfer during trunk rotation. Front and side planks, and their many variations, are a must for golf conditioning.
- Trunk rotations: A limber trunk with optimal rotational range of motion can prevent injury and dramatically improve the power of your swing. Try standing medicine ball rotations, supine rotational stretches, and rotations with a body bar or golf club held behind the back.
- Deadlifts: When performed correctly with a straight back and hinged hip, deadlifts strengthen your lower posterior chain, and enhance your swing and follow-through.
- Lunges: Lower body stability coupled with optimal range of motion is key to preventing back, hip and knee injuries, and to providing a stable base for your swing. Lunges effectively engage your lower kinetic chain through its full range of motion.
- External shoulder rotation: The muscles that stabilize your shoulder blades and externally rotate your shoulders are key players in golf. Use elastic resistance or weighted pulley cables to strengthen and stabilize.
- Reverse wood chopper: Mimic your golf swing with weighted cables or elastic resistance, to add strength, power and speed.
It is important to remember that golf is an asymmetrical sport, so help your clients achieve symmetry with stretching and strengthening exercises to offset muscle imbalances.
Sport-specific training can be a lucrative niche for personal trainers, especially if you establish your reputation as an expert in one or more popular sports. As always, W.I.T.S. has you covered with continuing education to expand your knowledge while you gain valuable CECs. To learn more about golf personal training, check out our 6-credit course, Golf Anatomy, available at the W.I.T.S. store.