The 'physical demands' of golf

How to take care of yourself on the course

The 'physical demands' of golf
The 'physical demands' of golfThe 'physical demands' of golf
Miguel Angel Jimenez reveals his pre-round stretch

Don't let anyone tell you golf isn't a physically demanding
sport - or
that pro golfers aren't real athletes. Now it's official - golf can
punish your body and if you don't take care of it, your enjoyment of
the game could be cut short.

Tiger Woods has revealed that his practice routine before the
US Open - which he eventually won after playing 91 holes - was to hit a
few balls on the range, sit in his golf buggy until the pain subsided,
then hit a few more balls.

His win over Rocclo Mediate after a 19-hole play-off, confirms
not only gritty talent but proves that it's a physically demanding game
whether you're world No.1 or a mere beginner. Key muscles and joints
get stressed especially when fatigue sets in towards the end of 18

"We just beat up our bodies," Jack Nicklaus told the
Washington Post, recently. "It's why I gave up golf."

And the act of driving the ball in search of that booming tee
shot can do more damage to us than you'd ever imagine - unless we do it

A study in The Golf Biomechanic's Manual by Paul Chek
revealed that amateur golfers achieve approximately 90 percent of their
peak muscular activity when driving a golf ball.

golf injuries
Jimenez stretches each leg's
"This is the same intensity as picking up a
weight that can only be
lifted four times before total fatigue. This level of exertion and
muscular activation equates golf with such sports as American football
(equivalent say to rugby), ice-hockey and martial arts. The difference
is that other athletes outside of golf include conditioning as an
integral part of their preparation before they play."

Amateurs don't grind nearly as much
as professionals, but they still have the same injuries. Florida
chiropractor Terry Golden, who treats golf injuries, said there are
many things average club players can do to reduce the risk.

He says: "You can't hit the ball 300
yards on every drive, so don't swing like you can. A smooth, easy swing
can also result in distance. A lot of people swing too hard, which
leads to problems. ''

He suggests a 30-minute warm-up.

"Before heading to the range, do
some stretches as if preparing to run. Deep knee bends, toe touches,
jumping jacks, windmill stretches and back stretches. Put a club behind
your back and rotate your hips to loosen the lower back.

"Warming up is huge,'' says Golden.
"It's a fact that 80 percent of golfers warm up for less than 10
minutes before golfing. And of those that do, their incidents of injury
is about half of those that don't warm up. Just warming up reduces the
risk of injury by 50 percent.''

He also suggests taking a lesson
from a pro.

"A golf pro can point out flaws that
will likely reduce stress on the lower back and joints. Poor swing
mechanics is a primary cause in golf injuries. A golf professional can
improve your swing and lessen your chance of injury.''

And don't ignore any pain, Golden
told the St Petersburg Times.

"If back or joint pain persists, get
it checked out. It could be something simple, but it also could be
something more serious. Don't make it worse by trying to play through
the pain. For example, to prevent low back injuries in golf it's a
matter of flexibility. Primarily, stretching for the low back and for
the hips is key.''

He says the average Joe Public looks
at golf as a leisure sport with people think there is no fitness
requirements to golf.

"That is absolutely untrue. There is
just about as much muscle exertion in a golf swing as there is in any
other sport and the more golf swings we take, the higher the risk of

So if the approaching Open
Championship, is encouraging you to get out there and p;lay more golf -
or even swing a golf club for the first time, our advice is to take the
time to warm up and fine-tune your golf swing. It will surely lead to
more pain-free rounds.

Tell us on the forum about your
pre-golf routine. Do you stretch and warm-up and hit balls on the range
or are you one of us who dashes to the first tee and expects to lash
the perfect drive down the middle?

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