On most days, golf is a fun and entertaining game.
An afternoon of hookshots and bunkers can of course spoil some of the fun, but even then you can enjoy the great outdoors and beautiful scenery.
However, it is unrealistic to rely on golf as a primary training regimen.
“You’re not getting intense cardiovascular training,” says Phillip Adler, PhD, a licensed athletic trainer and operations manager for Spectrum Health Orthopedic Outreach. “But you do something physically active.
“You step out in the sun and there’s the camaraderie with fellow golfers,” he said. “All of that offers some mental health benefits, despite the frequent annoyances that many golfers face.”
Because golfers use their muscles and different body parts, there are some tips you can follow to reduce the chance of injury on the green.
Caution begins the moment you carry the golf bag and clubs from your car to the course.
Use caution when lifting the bag in and out of your vehicle. Bend your knees and lift the bag with both hands, keeping it fairly close to your body to use good ergonomics.
Use a pull cart if you have one. If you carry the bag as you walk, be careful not to lean too far forward or to the side. If possible, find a strap to go over both shoulders to distribute the weight evenly.
Next on your list: a good warm-up. This applies to players at any level.
Warm up your muscles by stretching, said Dr. Adler.
Start with the wrist and shoulders and stretch the lower back muscles and hamstrings. Take some slower practice swings and take a short walk before hitting the track.
You also need the right equipment, so make sure the clubs are the right length for you. Do some rotational and diagonal movements to warm up and strengthen muscles.
“The hardest part of golf is the rotational component of the swing,” said Dr. Adler. “Every time you add rotation, you’re asking your muscles to do things you don’t normally do during the day.
“It doesn’t have to be intense, but you should always warm up a bit,” he said.
For moderate exercise, use a pull cart and walk the track instead of riding an electric or motorized cart.
Even picking up the ball can cause problems if you don’t do it right.
dr. Adler said that when you bend over to pick up a ball, swing one leg back to keep the pelvis neutral, to avoid possible back injury.
Healthy body, healthy mind
A few simple precautions can help you avoid problems like sunburn and insect bites.
Bring sunscreen and bug spray and dress appropriately for the weather.
Also research the golf course you plan to visit. Understand the terrain. You will experience much more fatigue on a hilly course than on a flat course – and this makes a good warm-up even more important.
“In addition,” emphasized Dr. Adler, “Golf isn’t normally an energy-hungry activity, but when you’re out in the sun you need to stay hydrated.”
Many golfers may want to go straight to the course to enjoy themselves, he said. The more competitive you become, the more focus you have on swing mechanics, flexibility, strength training and overall body mechanics.
You also need to work on developing a healthy psychology for sports to deal with the inevitable frustrations.
“In general, golf should be a fun and enjoyable activity that you can do with the family all your life,” he said. “With good preparation and attention to a few details, you can enjoy it safely and avoid injuries.”