Think improving your golf game is a long shot? Think again…

By Catherine Munaco, Owner, CoachMeFit West Bloomfield

Most of my clients start training with me to lose weight and gain strength and endurance, only to find that their golf game improves dramatically as well. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

Golf, like any other sport, is a game of mechanics. Most of us accept that our golf swing is fixed and become frustrated when all those private lessons don’t manifest as extra yards on our drive. The truth is, distance on a drive isn’t a matter of hitting the ball harder—it’s a matter of hitting the ball better. But no matter how much instruction and feedback you get from your golf pro you won’t be able to improve your swing if your muscles don’t have the proper strength and flexibility. This is where simple exercises can help drop your golf score– by improving your body’s ability to hit the ball more efficiently. Here’s a perfect example: if you bail out of your golf stance during your swing, you most likely have weak hamstring and gluteus muscles. A golf pro (or eager buddy) can alert you to the fact that you bail out, but knowing doesn’t help if you don’t have the strength to stay in the proper stance. Muscles in your core, arms, back, and legs dictate the pattern of your golf swing. By functionally strengthening these muscles to perform more efficiently, we see improvements in swing mechanics and longer drives.

The muscles of the core are the powerhouses of a golf swing. These muscles include the abdominals, back, and hips. Specifically, muscles in your core are responsible for the rotational aspect of your swing. To train these muscles, pick an exercise where you are twisting your core, such as a seated medicine ball twist with your feet up. For this exercise, balance on your tailbone on the floor with a 5 pound weighted ball in your hands and feet off the floor. Slowly twist the ball side to side, trying to rotate as far as possible to each side. Do this for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. If you can’t do 30 seconds with your feet up, put one of your heels on the floor. Likewise, a lack of core strength can manifest itself as lower back pain. Many people think that lower back pain is the result of weak back muscles, but if you struggle to finish 18 holes without feeling a twinge in your lower back, you may actually have weak abdominal muscles instead. The muscles of the abdomen are responsible for aligning our spine and minimizing the curve in our lower back (where we typically feel the pressure during golf or other weight bearing exercise).  Click here for more core strengthening exercises: http://www.golf-trainer.com/golf-fitness/core-strength-for-golf.html

Flexibility is another important component of a golf swing. Professional golfers have a huge range of motion on their backswing, which translates to a large potential energy to hit the ball with. If your muscles lack flexibility, you have limited range of motion, a short swing, and a shorter drive. There are many stretches that can help improve flexibility and range of motion. Limitations in flexibility differ from golfer to golfer, and your weaknesses in both strength and flexibility are going to be unique to you. I recommend having a golf professional or certified personal trainer functionally evaluate your swing to determine flexibility and strength imbalances before forming a stretching and strength program customized to your needs.

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