“Dear The Golfing Doc. Do you have any recommendations on how to stay warm during these colder months? My lower back really gets stiff when I’m playing in colder weather. Thanks. George A., Redmond, WA.”
Well, you can’t complain too much about our summer in the Pacific Northwest this year. We had great weather and even had a heat wave too! Unfortunately, fall is back and so is the rain, wind, and colder weather. It is time to pull out the umbrellas, rain gear, waterproof shoes, rain gloves, and whatever you tend to use to help you play in our climate.
If you are someone who feels stiffer in colder weather, then move to a warmer climate! Just kidding! Not all of us have the luxury of moving down to California or Arizona during the colder months. Instead, you have to figure out how to stay warm while golfing. Here are some of the common strategies I would suggest trying:
- Warmer Clothes – Wear a base layer. These are those tight, stretchy long sleeves you tend to see a lot of athletes wearing. This will help you retain body heat. It shouldn’t restrict your movement unless you bought one way too small.
- Warm Beverages – It’s okay to drink some tea or coffee while you are playing. Don’t be afraid to bring a thermos with your favorite warm beverage.
- Stay Dry – If you can stay dry from the rain, you will stay warmer. Having wet hands or feet or clothes will make you lose heat faster.
- Cover Your Head – Wear a beanie, toque, or knit cap to cover your head and ears. This will help any heat loss from the top of your head.
- Heated Jacket or Vest – If you really suffer in the cold, you might want to look into a heated jacket of vest. There are now a few different companies out there that offer a jacket or vest that can stay warm for up to 4 hours.
- Heat Patches – If your back tends to get more sore or stiff in the cold, try wearing a heating patch. These can be purchased from most drug stores and last up to 8 hours depending on the brand.
- Hand Warmers – Don’t forget the hand and foot warmers. These are awesome! Find a big pair of mittens to wear between shots.
- Long Johns – Wear long johns under your rain pants. Nobody cares what you are wearing under your rain pants. Your goal is to stay warm. Just remember that if you do take your rain pants off, you are wearing long johns!
- Walk the Course – If you can walk the golf course, do it. This will help keep your body temperature up. Sometimes sitting in a cart is helpful in keeping you dry but you don’t generate much heat sitting down.
- Keep Moving – Don’t catch yourself standing still or sitting on a bench in between shots.
One of the most affected body parts in cold weather is the lower back. Try the strategies above to stay warm in general. You can also try some of these exercises in between shots to keep the lower back loose. Some of these stretches are for your hips and legs too. Just remember, tight hips and legs can cause your back to tighten up. Hold each stretch for up to 30 seconds and repeat on both sides throughout your round.
If you have any discomfort during any of these exercises stop immediately and consult your physician.
Dr. Harry Sese is the Clinical Director at the Washington Golf Performance Institute in Bellevue, WA.