Golf is often referred to as a frustrating game that involves smacking a little white ball through paddocks and trees and then attempting to get it into a small hole but if you are anything like me, you would hate missing a game through pain or injury.
Golf is one game that I rarely discourage people from playing as it has many physical health benefits.
Despite the obvious elements of frustration, getting out with friends and colleagues in the fresh air and walking 5km is a great form of relaxation and cardiovascular exercise.
However, golf can have its physical demands:
– Knee pain can be aggravated by hilly courses and the twisting action of a golf swing.
– Low back pain can be aggravated by hills, pulling a buggy, swinging a club and bending down to put a tee in the ground
_ Shoulder pain can increase with the golf swing and pulling a cart.
For some, the idea of hiring an electric cart is ‘not golf’ but it’s a great means of looking after your knees and hips, especially on hilly courses whilst still getting your social fix and improving your low back and shoulder mobility.
Pushing a buggy is a lot less strain on your back and shoulders than pulling it (there are some great three wheeler buggies available today, which greatly reduce strain and effort).
Golf requires joint mobility and muscular flexibility to achieve the right timing when connecting with a ball. If your low back or shoulders are stiff, it is very difficult to make good contact with the ball and control its accuracy. Furthermore, the less mobile you are the more likely your timing will decrease as the game progresses – affecting the consistency of your game.
You may commonly notice that a younger more flexible person can generate a longer shot on the course, whilst an older, less mobile player, will chip their way up the centre of the fairway – the more flexible player can create a much faster head speed due to a bigger, smoother swing. The more inflexible player has a lot less joint mobility so has a very limited swing. This creates less speed but is usually more accurate as it has less movements of the body involved.
So when you’re trying to improve your ball connection or consistency don’t just hit the range, start stretching your back and shoulders and consider seeing an osteopath to identify areas you need to work on.
Golf has many health benefits so don’t let your body prevent you from getting out there.
Author: Dr Jason Stone (Osteopath)