3 Easy Things to Work on Your Golf Game in the Winter (and prevent back and hip injuries on the green)
So you love to golf, but do you hate when that soreness in your hips or back starts to limit you on the course? Whether you’re a “golf every day I possibly can” kind of person, or a “weekend warrior” golfer, you can benefit from doing a little bit of work on your back and hips RIGHT NOW. And golf is an awesome sport! It can be super social, relaxing, it gets your body moving, and gets your steps in!
While there are many aches and pains that may bother you while golfing, I’m going to focus on the top three things you need to start doing now to prepare for the spring for your low back and hips.
Prevent Golf Injuries
#1 Get your back rotating
Take a look at a golfer’s follow through on their swing. (Specifically, Brooke Henderson!)
You really get wound up!
Now what happens if you’re not able to rotate your spine?
That movement, drive, and force to hit the ball has to come from somewhere else (like your shoulders, hips, or elbows), OR you’ll end up slamming your spine into a corner it doesn’t want to go and end up getting sore.
Ask yourself : When is the last time that you purposefully rotated your spine repetitively… not playing golf?
If the answer is “Hmm… I’m not sure…” then you can benefit from this stretch coming up!
What you’re going to do is lie down on your side, and bring your top knee down to the floor. Put your hand behind your neck, and then rotate your top shoulder down to the floor behind you.
If this feels like an awesome stretch – great! Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat 3 times.
If this feels “ouch”, like sharp pain, or just doesn’t feel… good…. That’s okay! This is why we need to work on this.
Start with a 2 second hold, and then move yourself out of the stretch. Repeat this 10-20 times. You may have to ease your way into it. This means that you can start with less movement, and as it loosens have to to increase your range of motion. This may occur over 1 session, or multiple sessions. For some people, they could benefit from working on this for months.
Do this stretch every day if possible to work on gaining mobility!
#2 Open up your hips
In golf there is a lot of hip rotation in addition to spinal rotation. For some people, this can make their hips sore after a day of golfing.
By working on loosening up your hips, you can keep your hips healthy and also help to ease your way back into your golf game a little easier. Your hips should be able to internally rotate and externally rotate. In standing, if you keep your knee straight and you tilt your toes outward away from your body, you are externally rotating your hip. If you keep your knee straight and you tilt your toes inward towards your body, you are internally rotating your hip.
Your front hip in particular is often forced into internal rotation with your follow through on your swing, which can be quite sensitive for some people.
Start working on this super easy hip mobility exercise to work on both internal and external rotation in your hips.
Start lying on your back with your knees bent, with your feet out wider than your hips. Keep your lower back on the ground through the whole exercise. Drop one knee out away from your body, while you drop the other knee in towards the other knee. Hold for 2 seconds, and then reverse the movement. Go back and forth for 20 repetitions. Perform this exercise everyday to help your hips move better.
Tip : be aware of how your knees and hips feel in this exercise – if something is painful, use less pressure.
#3 Strengthen that spinal rotation
YES you want mobility, but now we want to build strength in that mobility that you’ve opened up.
Especially if you haven’t focused on spinal mobility before, you want to make sure that your muscles are going to be supportive to your back once you get into that full twist.
Your muscles are what actually MOVE your body with speed, precision, and intensity. If you just work on mobility only, then you’ll be able to twist your spine, but the control to do such a precise swing the exact way you want to… Might not be there.
For this next exercise, you’ll need an exercise band or stretchy exercise cord. If it’s too light, this might feel really easy. If it’s too hard and not stretchy enough, you won’t be able to move.
Get set up with a band attached to something sturdy at chest height. Hold your arms out in front of you with your elbows straight, clasping your hands together around the band. Side step away to add on some tension to the band so it’s not loose. Step your feet hip width apart.
Rotate through your spine only by planting your hips over top of your feet. Ensure that you’re able to isolate your spinal motion by rotating your shoulders away from your hips.
If you’re not able to move through your spine – practice this first!
Then, when you’ve got that down, move to combined hip and spinal motion. You’re going to twist your spine and your hips to turn away. This is more similar to a golf swing. You do want to ensure you are moving both at your hips, and through your spine.
Repeat this motion slowly with control – about 3 seconds on the way out and 3 seconds on the way in. Repeat 10 times, for 3 sets. You can do this exercise 4x/week to gain strength in your spine and hips.
To make it harder – step away from the band attachment to add more tension
Too hard? – step closer to the band attachment
Bonus advice for injury prevention:
While it’s impossible to guarantee that you can prevent sports injuries forever (honestly, even physiotherapists get injuries when we over do it), there are some simple concepts that are really important to keep in mind when you are getting back on the golf course this spring.
Often injuries can come on after “doing too much too soon”. This means that you go from a low level of exercise or mobility, to a high level of exercise/mobility. An example of this on a short term basis is going from driving in your car for 30 minutes, and then going right to hitting a golf ball as hard as you can while your muscles and joints haven’t had time to warm up. Practicing your golf swing more gently, and even just walking can be a good way to get blood flow to all those muscles and joints that you’re about to challenge.
A more long term example of this is doing NO physical activity over the winter, and then expecting to get back to a full weekend of golfing in the spring when the golf course opens. Even if you do a bit of walking in the winter for general exercise, this doesn’t prepare your body for the very specific demands of golfing.
Your body adapts to whatever stimulus is presented to it, so if you’re not doing much rotating through your hips and back, your body thinks this isn’t important any more and may lose a bit of mobility! You can very easily maintain – and even increase it – through the above simple tips over the winter.
So have fun, share this blog with your golfer friends, and get going on your golf game… even if there is 3 feet of snow outside.
Do your hips and lower back need a little extra help? Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will be sure to help you form a personalized treatment plan.
Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy and Performance