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March 27, 2010, last updated June 4, 2012
By Rory McClenaghnan, Contributing Columnist
My golf swing sure could use a lot of help, I'm a 17 handicapper but my
slice is always my downfall. Like all golfers, the swing is a constant
obsession, am I thinking about my technique enough or over-thinking
it and tensing up? For an action that takes a fraction of a second there
are countless tiny elements and variables to tweak and address.
But what doesn't get enough attention is the preparation you can put
in away from the course. The right exercise routine can make a huge
difference to your swing power and accuracy, as well as helping you to
avoid the many nagging injuries us golfers can be susceptible to.
We have pulled together the following comprehenive list of the
exercises recommended by medical authorities and professional golfers
to improve your golf swing:
1. Physio-Ball Table Top – Back injuries are the plague of the
golfer. If you've got lower back pain, chances are you could have
issues with your backswing. The PGA highlight the reverse spine angle
swing fault as one such problem. Their solution is the physio-ball table
top exercise. Rest your head and shoulders on the top of the ball with
your feet on the floor, about shoulder width apart. Place your hands on
your hips and straighten each leg in turn, holding for one second. Do
between 15 and 20 reps. This exercise builds strength in the lumbar
section of the body.
2. Trunk Flexibility Exercises – The Nicholas Institute of Sports
Medicine and Athletic Trauma highlights the importance of the trunk
region in the swing. The more motion you have in this region, the
better your swing, it's as simple as that. They recommend a number of
stretches including the Upper Body Trunk Rotation.
Using both hands hold a golf club behind your head, resting on your
shoulders, twist your body left and hold for ten and then right. Three
3. Yoga – LPGA tour pro Natalie Gulbis swears by her yoga routine
as the best preparation before a round: “It's essential in helping me
loosen up to prevent injuries and help maintain my range of motion,”
she says. See your local yoga instructor to get started.
4. The Spider – another recommendation from the PGA, this
exercise improves flexibility in the hip, lower back, glutes and
Start off in a normal push-up position, lift your right foot and move it
up until it is outside your right hand. Now try and push your right
forearm down towards the floor and feel the stretch. When you can go
no further, hold it for a second. Repeat on your left side and do 10 to
5. Focus on the glutes – the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus
are all essential to a stable and powerful swing, according to co-
founder of Pilates Digest, Kelley Ranaudo. She recommends an exercise
called The Birdie.
Lie on your back to prepare for the basic bridge position – knees bent,
feet shoulder width apart. Lift your hips to form the bridge and then lift
one foot at a time slightly off the floor, without changing your hip
position. This exercise keeps you stable while stretching your glutes,
great for your swing.
6. The Total Shoulder – Norwegian LGPA Tour pro Suzann
Pettersen puts her successful swing down to her thorough warm up
routine, a crucial part of which is the Total Shoulder. Suzann uses a
small band for this exercise. She stands on it with feet shoulder width
apart and stretches it with her arms held straight out in front of her for
the starting position. She then lifts her arms over her head and finally
brings them down so that they are stretched completely straight in a T-
position. As well as stretching the shoulder this exercise goes through
the full range of shoulder motion Suzann will need, so she can check
for any pains before she starts to swing.
7. Posterior Shoulder Capsule Stretch – Phil Mickelson said of
professional trainer Sean Cochran: “I have worked extremely hard with
my personal trainer Sean Cochran... the biggest effect has been on my
full swing”. Endorsements don't come much bigger than that and one
of Cochran's swing exercises is the Posterior Shoulder Capsule Stretch.
Lie with your left hip on the floor, with your legs together and your left
arm perpendicular to the shoulder. Bend your left elbow so that your
left upper arm touches the floor. With your right hand, grab your left
wrist and try to slowly push your left forearm to the floor. When you
feel the stretch hold it for thirty seconds. Repeat on the other side.
8. Figure eights – A tip from one of the greats. Former World No.1
Nick Faldo believes drawing a figure eight with your driver stretched
out before you is the perfect way to make sure you are ready for your
first drive of the day. “That warms up your wrists, forearms and a bit
of the rotator cuffs as well, that’s quite important,” says the winner of
three US Masters.
9. Lower back twists – another piece of advice from Faldo. Lie on
the floor with your right leg over your left leg, grab your right leg with
your left hand and gently pull the knee to the floor, twisting your spine
as you go. Remember to keep your shoulders and hips on the floor and
your right arm stretched out. Repeat on the other side.
“ I might get on the floor and do a few twists here and there just to de-
clunk it, that sort of thing,” says Faldo.
10. Develop a full warm-up and conditioning program – it works! A
study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2004
(Improving golf performance with a warm up conditioning programme)
found that five weeks of five minute home exercises five times a day
improved golfers clubhead speeds by an average of 24%. The exercises
included trunk twists; stretches for the shoulder, trunk, hamstrings,
chest, wrists and forearms, each held for at least five seconds; and a
final 30 seconds of air swings.
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