“Dear The Golfing Doc. My back and hips tend to stiffen up after holes especially when it’s cold and raining. Are there any good stretches I can do on the course? And is it better for me to walk or ride a cart? Thanks. Troy S., Seattle, WA.”
I know it’s been a tough start to the golf season here in the Pacific Northwest with all the rain. But now it’s time to step up the golfing. Before you do that, ask yourself what kind of physical shape you are in. This is to help reduce your risk of hurting yourself when you run out to the driving range and hit a 1000 balls!
Have you been working out during the “off season”? If your answer is yes, that’s fantastic. Get out there and start playing. If you have not been working out, that’s not good, but that’s okay. It’s never too late to start. I would recommend starting with some basic cardio such as biking or walking. If you need a little motivation, just remember how many miles and steps you take to play a round of golf. The more golf you want to play, the better conditioned your body must be to withstand it.
If you have been reading my past articles, you know that I recommend having a consistent golf-specific conditioning routine. This should include daily golf-specific exercises to help target your trouble spots such as tight hamstrings. It should also include your standard warm up and cool down routine before and after you practice or play. If you don’t have one, check out my wife’s blog which includes a great library of golf exercises (www.shawnfarmersese.com). If you are able to commit more time during the week to your golf conditioning, then include a more intense workout program that you can do a few times a week. No one said being a golfer is easy. If you are a golfer, you are an athlete.
When it comes to the question of, is it better to ride a cart or walk the course while playing golf? That will depend on your health including past and present injuries or conditions and your own personal preferences. If you want to maintain, improve, or challenge your cardiovascular conditioning, then walking is a great form of exercise. Carrying your bag or using a pull cart for over 6 miles in over 4 hours is a great way to burn calories and improve your endurance. If the course is very hilly and super long since it weaves through a bunch of houses, then riding a cart may be a better option. If you have an underlying issue such as a significantly arthritic hip that bothers you after walking long distances but doesn’t hurt while swinging, then a cart would be better for you. Some golfers feel better walking as it keeps their body moving and prevents it from getting stiff from shot to shot.
One common issue that you do share with a lot of golfers is the body stiffening up while playing. If this is the case, then definitely stretch during your round as frequently as needed. As the summer approaches and fairways and tee boxes dry up, why not take a few seconds to stretch. Throw a towel on the grass and stretch those tight spots.
Here are the top 5 exercises from our GOLFLETICA Director of Golf Conditioning, Shawn Farmer Sese you can do throughout your round to keep you moving. Hold your stretches for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on each side as needed. If you feel any pain or major discomfort while performing an exercise, stop immediately and consult your physician.