During the winter months, many of us don't get out to play golf or exercise as much as we do during the spring and summer. Therefore, I would like to emphasize the importance of staying flexible and strengthening all year to increase your power once you play again!
Most of us experience some sort of joint stiffness and loss of flexibility after not swinging for a period of time and then teeing it up on the links, or many others experience pain after hitting too many balls or playing too much. Either way, pain is usually the result of these problems which then leads to loss of distance and power. We want to keep those muscles in use even in the winter months when we may not swing as much. For many golfers with a form of arthritis, like myself, it is absolutely necessary that you stick to a program of some sort advised perhaps by a trainer or physical therapist to get you started. Then stick to it! The following are suggestions to get you started, and what have kept me in "tune" year around:
FLEXIBILITY: Try to stretch at least two times each day by doing the following:
1. Reach up to the ceiling with both hands stretching your sides to the right and left. Then, flex your knees slightly and touch your fingers to your toes-this will loosen up your lower back.
2. Stand with your back facing a doorway and grab the inside first with your left arm and lean forward and then with your right arm. This will stretch arms, shoulders, and neck.
3. Stand with your back against a wall and raise your arms up over your head. Keep them flexed while touching the wall as well. Do this ten times-make sure your body keeps in contact with the wall.
4. Stand arm's length from a wall with both hands touching the wall and fall to the wall as if you are doing a push-up. Try this with your hands at different heights and hold each at least twenty seconds. This stretches the chest and shoulder muscles.
5. Sit in a chair and tilt head and neck back-then pull forward so it's even with your shoulders again. Do this with your neck to the sides as well. Hold each for at least ten seconds before slowly returning to front position. Do ten repetitions of each. This will help with neck and upper back stiffness.
6. A middle-upper back stretch is accomplished by pulling each elbow toward the opposite shoulder and holding for ten seconds each time.
STRENGTH: Try to do the following at least once a day.
1. Partial sit-ups are great for strengthening front neck, chest, and abdominal muscles! Hips and knees are slightly bent, and then arms reaching for the knees, head and shoulders lift off the floor simultaneously. Rise only to the point where the lower back is raised from the floor. Add a slight left and right twist as you come up to strengthen all abdominal muscles.
2. Use rubber tubing for resistance to strengthen upper back and shoulder muscles. Keep elbows into your side with forearms extended outward. Rubber tubing is between both hands. Pull in a rotating fashion outward. Complete ten reps at a time.
3. Hold arms directly in front of you with tubing between hands. Pull horizontally out and then retract back in. Do ten reps-helps shoulder blade muscles.
4. Hold rubber tubing with one hand even with your hip. With the other hand, pull from your side up as high as you can. Then pull out from your side only so your arm is parallel with your shoulder. Do ten reps of each and then switch arms.
5. Hold onto a weighted ball by the right side of your head and make a full twist to the left-do ten reps. Then, hold ball on the left side of your head and make a full twist to the right-ten reps. Then swing the ball from right to left practicing your torso turn for golf to add yards!
6. To strengthen arms and wrists use soup cans or 2-3 pound weights and keep elbows into your body and pull the cans or weights into your chest. Do ten together and then ten with each arm separately. Next, keep arms stationery and roll wrists toward your forearms-same reps as with your arms.
Combining flexibility and strengthening exercises along with perhaps a brisk walk of twenty to thirty minutes three to four times a week can alleviate everyday aches and pains we may experience while playing golf. This game uses so many of our muscles that it's important to keep them toned to avoid serious injuries. By taking thirty minutes out of your day to prepare your muscles, you can return to the links anytime and feel good with your swing and ultimately achieve more distance!
TIP OF THE MONTH:
You can hit the ball high or low in both the long game and short game depending on the placement of the ball in your stance. Keep your hands in neutral position at address-center or slightly left of center. Then, for a high trajectory shot place the ball toward your left foot(for right-handers) and swing! Experiment to see how much trajectory you'd like in relation to where the ball is placed. To hit the ball lower with more run play the ball off your left foot and swing! Experiment again for position. Remember: Left=loft and Right=run.
LPGA Professional Kelly Kleckner teaches at Cherokee Ridge Golf Course in Colorado Springs, Colo. She played collegiate golf for Colorado State University, and is the founder and director of the LPGA Girls Golf Club for the area. She coaches and teaches private and semi-private lessons all year. For more information call 719-576-9176.