?Understanding the Impact of Golf on Your Body
Why Conditioning for Golf is So Important for Women Golfers
Both men and women golfers understand that golf is a healthy and relaxing sport. Playing golf gives all of your major muscle groups a great workout; it is an excellent sport for de-stressing and gives its players an optimal cardiovascular workout to boot. What is not understood by most men and women golfers is just how much the sport of golf impacts their bodies and why it is critical that they condition their bodies for golf. Conditioning for golf is much more than the right golf lessons and a huge amount of practice. While these two priorities might enhance your swing or help with your short game, they will not prevent the one thing that will keep you off the course – injuries. Only by conditioning your body for golf will you really keep injury, pain and premature performance plateaus out of your game.
Golf is a highly athletic sport and for women far more demanding than their male counterparts. That is not an aspersion on skill levels – just a fundamental fact that the key muscle groups used for golf are the upper body, which is a naturally stronger area for men than women.
To help you put golf as a sport into perspective I have taken an explanation of its physical requirements from
Katherine Roberts’ Yoga for Golfers:
“Consider that the head of a golf club can travel over 100 miles per hour, an effort comparable to pitching a baseball. Or the fact that amateur golfers achieve approximately 90 percent of their peak muscle activity when driving a golf ball. This is the same lifting intensity as picking up a weight that can only be lifted four times before total fatigue sets in. Yet golfers …. Strike the ball an average of thirty to forty times a game with comparable intensity.” (See below for more info)
When you consider the amount of exertion and the physical requirements needed to perform this level of activity over a 9 or 18-hole game, it puts Golf in the same level as football, hockey and martial arts. Yet there is a drastic difference in the approach of physical training and conditioning programs between these sports and your average amateur men and women golfers. Now add to the mix the average age that women especially tend to take up golf – usually in their late thirties or forties.
It is because amateur golfers don’t understand the level of physical training required to play golf, that they do not undertake the conditioning required to ensure they stay injury free. Conditioning your body can also ensure that you can over come performance plateaus without causing further strain and injury to your muscles.
The most common injuries that plague men and women golfers are:
Back strain or back pain;
Achilles tendon injuries;
Golfers (tennis) elbow; and
Hand and wrist pain.
What does conditioning for golf mean for women?
It doesn’t mean that you have to hire a personal trainer or put in 30 hrs a week fitness training to enjoy four hours of golf. What it does mean for you is a choice – do you want to improve your golf and remain pain and injury free? Or would you like to go on concentrating on your skill level and practicing your swing?
If you choose to condition for golf, then it’s important that you choose the right fitness program for you – one that is achievable and doesn’t make you groan thinking about it. The areas that women golfers should concentrate on are:
Strengthening of your back;
Overall Strength training for the major muscle groups (strength not muscle mass); and
A good pre and post game stretching routine.
There are several ways you can go about finding the right conditioning program for you:
If you are being treated for any medical conditions – speak to your doctor first and get their advice on the best way forward;
Talk to the staff at your local gym and tell them the areas you want to condition and ask their advice on an overall fitness program;
Look at joining an exercise class that promotes this type of integrated program, one such type is Yoga as it strengthens muscles and helps with posture, while teaching you excellent stretching techniques;
Ask your golf buddies if they use a fitness program and find the bits and pieces that work for you –
if you design your own program, try and get a fitness instructor to give it the once over to ensure your not neglecting key areas or concentrating too much on an area that will do little for you.
For women golfers who want to improve their shot distance or decrease their back pain – conditioning for golf can bring you the results you have been waiting for. Men and women golfers are lucky as they have already found the one sport that amongst the healthiest for people of any age. Conditioning for golf enables you to enjoy this sport for as long as your interest holds. With increased swing power, posture and overall body strength you will be a force to be reckoned with on the golf course leaving your fellow women golfers in awe.
For further information on avoiding pain or coming back from injury or illness you can try Golf after 50 – Playing without Pain. Although this book is aimed at the over 50 golfers, it has great information for women golfers and golfers of any age taking up the game.