Golf is a sport which requires balance, core stability, flexibility, precision, coordination and power. As an exercise physiologist, corrective exercise plays a huge role in the programmes I prescribe a client.
Flexibility and core strengthening exercises for golf
For golfers, maintaining thoracic mobility, coordination of the upper and lower body (during movement) and core strength are all areas which require a strong focus. The following programme shows how each of these areas can be addressed through corrective exercise.
1) Kneeling Latissimus Dorsi stretch – the latissimus dorsi attaches from the lower spine and inserts into the humerus near the shoulder joint. Tightness of this muscle can contribute to pain in the shoulder and the lower back. Begin in an upright kneeling position with the hips straightened, clasp the fingers behind the head, keep the hips still and move to one side until you feel a stretch in the side of the trunk. Picture sliding the upper body along a wall to keep the trunk from twisting. Repeat three times each side holding for 30 seconds.
2) Single leg superman isometric hold – this exercise is designed to strengthen the glutes, core and shoulder girdle. Stand on one leg with the body upright and the arms extended straight up above the head, keep the elbows straight and the shoulders relaxed. Tilt forward from the hips, keeping a neutral lower back, engage the glutes and core and hold for 10 seconds. Do not let the non-weight bearing hip drop. 3X8 each side
3) Four point kneeling thoracic extension – begin in the position shown on all fours, keep the shoulders above the wrists, the hips above the knees and a neutral lower back. Place the right hand behind the head. Picture a glass of red wine being balanced on the lower back, then move the right elbow toward the back of the left elbow, keep the low back still. Slowly move the elbow back to neutral and then continue to lift the elbow to the sky following with the eyes. Try to keep the lower back still while the upper back is moving. 3X10 each side slowly
4) Swiss ball kneeling opposite arm and leg – initially master this exercise on the floor and then progress to doing this exercise on the swiss ball. Position the body the same as exercise 3 but on the ball, ensuring that the core is engaged and the neutral spine is maintained in the lower back. Extend the right arm out in front, keep the head in alignment, chin tucked in and shoulder down and relaxed. Practice each limb separately until mastered, then perform the opposite arm and leg at the same time. 3X10 each limb/side
5) Swiss ball kneeling dumbbell wood chop – kneeling on a swiss ball, keep the hips forward and the body upright. Hold the dumbbell in two hands, begin with the weight in front of the right shoulder and proceed to move the weight in a chopping like motion to the left hip. Engage the inner thighs, gluteals and core and avoid shrugging the shoulders. 3×10 each side
6) Cable rotation with fixed hips – stand with feet shoulder width apart with the hips extended. Keep the chest up and rotate the upper body until the hands are facing the opposite direction to the cable machine, this is when the hips will want to move with the upper body, don’t let this happen and keep the hips still. Activate the core and gluteals and keep the hips facing straight ahead while the upper body is rotated to face the opposite direction. 3X10 each side
A specialist in exercise rehabilitation and chronic disease management, Kristina Jessup is a sport and rehab consultant at UniRec and uses “exercise as medicine”. Trained to provide carefully tailored exercise programmes for people from all walks of life and particularly those who may have struggled with exercise in the past; have particular limitations which prevent them from exercising, or those who simply don’t know where to start, Kristina has a wealth of experience spanning eight years and provides expert advice in chronic disease management and musculoskeletal rehabilitation.