Get Ready for Golf!

golfWhen the cold and snowy weather breaks, and you want to be ready for a new golf season, here are some tips to keep you healthy and enjoy your time on the course:

Flexibility is an important part of golf, and performing regular stretching year round can help your swing and your game.   Stretch the large muscles in your legs – hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves, holding each for 20-30 seconds. Don’t forget the back, neck and shoulders as well.   Stretching is best done when muscles are warm, like after a walk or other workout, or after a shower.   If right before your round of golf, stretching should consist of more dynamic movements, like light swinging of clubs or 5-10 second stretches.

Strength of core muscles is another very important part of the golf game. Sit ups are no fun, but stomach muscles are a key contributor to power in your game.   Sit ups can be done on the floor or on an exercise ball, and core can also be worked with medicine balls and resistance bands.   The gluteus muscles (in your buttocks) and leg muscles are also important muscles to keep strong for good performance on the golf course.   Squats and wallslides will help to increase lower body power with your swing.

Another important part of the game that you can train year round is balance. The golf swing requires good balance.   Take time to stand on one leg, 15-30 seconds. Try at first with eyes open, then progress to eyes closed. This is easy to do while standing and doing dishes or brushing your teeth.

Improving flexibility, strength, and balance will not only help your overall performance with golf, but hopefully prevent injury as well.   So get yourself ready so you can go out and hit ‘em long and straight!

Laura Blair is a physical therapist at Center for Joint Surgery and Sports Medicine.   She is also certified level II by Titleist Performance Institute to perform golf fitness evaluations.   Call her for all your golf fitness questions, and also check out www.mytpi.com for additional golf fitness information.

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Avoid Sore Arms This Baseball Season

It’s that time of year when the weather is starting to warm up and baseball players are beginning to throw.  It’s also that time of year when we start seeing a lot of sore arms come through our physical therapy clinic.  In most cases the issue is just muscle strain when a ball player was trying to throw too hard, too far, too soon.  In other cases the injury may be a bit more serious such as suffering from tendonitis or bursitis at the shoulder or elbow.  And in extreme cases severe injury can occur such as torn ligaments at the elbow or torn muscle/tendon involving the rotator cuff.  Most of these injuries could have been avoided just by performing a proper warm-up and stretching routine.  Having good throwing mechanics is also vital but that is a whole different story (blog).

First thing to do in your warm-up is to take a light job around the field or jog from foul pole to foul pole along the outfield fence and back.    The warmed muscles will be more pliable which will facilitate stretching.  This is a good time to stretch the major muscle groups of the lower extremities to include quads, hamstrings, calf and groin.

To address the arms, you can first start by doing arm circles out to the side to get the blood flowing.  This can be followed by doing the Clemson drill or versions there of which would entail moving your arm up and down.  Starting with your throwing arm down at your side, lift it over head keeping elbow straight in a direction in front of body. May do 5-10 reps.  Then do 5-10 reps lifting throwing arm overhead with elbow straight moving in direction out to the side.  Finally, do 5-10 reps in a diagonal motion starting with throwing hand up overhead and moving arm down and across body to opposite hip, again keeping elbow straight.  Next, the posterior shoulder capsule stretch can be done.  To do so, bring your throwing arm across your chest.  Then use your non-throwing arm to hook the throwing arm at the elbow and pull throwing arm further across the body/chest.  Hold for good10 seconds.  Another good stretch is the tricep stretch.  Bring throwing arm up overhead, then bend elbow and try to touch your upper back or shoulder blade.  Use non-throwing arm to push elbow further back.  After doing tricep stretch you can do biceps stretch.  This stretch is best done with a team mate.  First, lift both arms backward with palms facing down.  Now have a team mate gently lift your arms higher and bend wrists back until comfortable stretch is felt.  Hold 10 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.  Now stretch the forearm muscles by holding your throwing arm straight out in front of you, keeping elbow straight bend your wrist back using your other hand and then you can bend wrist down holding 10 seconds each way.

Finally, this may be the most important stretch of all, especially for the older baseball player (high school/college), particularly pitchers.  It is called the Sleeper Stretch.  The easiest way to do this stretch is to lie on your side.  If you’re a right handed thrower, lay on your right side and vice versa if you’re a lefty.  Then bring your throwing arm out so that it is perpendicular to your body.  Bend your elbow to 90 degrees so the forearm/hand is pointing straight up to the sky.  From here, use your other arm to bring forearm/hand of throwing arm down towards ground in direction of waist, as if arm wrestling yourself.  Make sure to keep elbow bent at 90 degrees.  You should feel a good stretch but also should be a comfortable stretch.  This stretch will create more internal rotation motion allowing more range for the arm to decelerate once the ball is released, thus reducing stresses on ligaments and muscle/tendon at the elbow and shoulder.

By following a good warm-up and stretching routine, sore arm syndrome and more importantly, serious injuries can be avoided.

Have a great season and play ball! – Charles “Pete” Rinehart, MPT

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