3 Tips to Improve Your Golf Game
First things first - this is all information, I'm not going to bash golf or tell you shouldn’t do it. Not only will these tips keep you from getting injured or aggravating something to the point of injury, it will improve your game as well, trust me. The three most often places we see pain when it comes to golf are: the lower back, the knees, and the elbows, all of which are often a result of lack of mobility somewhere or that you are coming into it cold. Each problem area has a tip associated with it to both improve your game and keep you safe.
#1. The lower back
Possible issue: Most often this is a result of a lack of mobility in one of two places, either the thoracic spine or the hips. If your thoracic spine (the upper back portion of the spine) is unable to rotate as far as it should, that rotation when you drive the ball has to come from somewhere. Most often that comes from the lower back. The thoracic spine (upper back), by design, is meant to rotate 5 to 6 times further than the lumbar spine (lower back). When you make the lower back rotate father than it is supposed to, pain is almost certain. The other possible issue spot is the hips. If the hips are tight and can't rotate to transfer the power on the swing, that rotation has to come from somewhere else, most often the lower back.
Tip #1: Doing both thoracic spine warm-ups and hip warm-ups will not only greatly reduce your risk of injury, but also create more power in your swing because you will be able to rotate further and drive your hips through better. Examples of exercises you can do are 10 reps of open book on each side and 5 groiners on each side. Even some foam rolling through the glutes and hip flexors have be very helpful.
#2. The knees
Possible issue: Just like with the example of the lower back, when one place is supposed to move and it can’t, that movement has to be made up somewhere. If you try to rotate to follow through on your swing and your hips are tight, that rotation has to be made up somewhere. The other place it will be made up is at the knees. The hip joint is designed to move in pretty much any direction. The knee is not. The knee is designed to move forward and backward, and that’s pretty much it. Think about it like joints in your fingers - your fingers can bend and extend but what would happen if someone grabbed the tip of your finger and twisted it? Not good.
Tip #2: Hip warmups such as groiners, triangle mobility, and even foam rolling through the glutes and hip flexors will help you gain mobility in your hips and avoid knee issues. Not only will doing these exercises help your knees, but it'll also help increase the power of your swing since the hips are the most important part of driving the ball.
#3. The elbows
Possible issue: This issue is less common and often comes more from a lack of strength in the joint than a lack of mobility. Golf swings involve major transfers of energy and if you aren’t careful, the whip of that transfer through the elbow can cause some issues. Think about what would happen if someone grabbed your hand and quickly jerked it side to side…not too great on the elbow. That’s what happens on every golf swing. If you aren’t taking the preparations to strengthen and protect the connective tissue that holds that joint together it could take a toll on your elbows.
Tip #3: Work on grip strength. Holding heavy kettle bells or hanging from the bar are both great ways to do this.