Improve Your Body, Improve Your Game: Golf Exercises for Flexibility, Strength and Conditioning
Those who play golf seriously are keenly aware that an integral part of the game is taking care of your body. Just ask Tiger Woods, whose collection of injuries over the years rivals his collection of wins. In addition to causing him intense discomfort and pain, his ailments often prevented him from playing golf altogether.
Keeping your body loose and lithe is essential for playing golf. Golf Academy of America in Dallas PGA Professional Rachel Lee explains how golf fitness exercises can help optimize your body for success in the game of golf.
Golf Exercises for Flexibility
Unlike many other sports, golf isn’t about having big, showy muscles. Instead, Lee recommends focusing on flexibility and mobility.
“Understand how to use a foam roller first,” she advises. “Then, by going through a series of flexibility tests, you can figure out where your weaknesses are and tackle those.”
Lee often finds that when players have less flexibility, they try to compensate in their swing.
“If you have a hurt knee, you’re going to compensate. It’s the same idea. If you don’t have the flexibility, you’re going to do things in your golf swing to try to get the most out of it,” she explains. “Golf requires your hip flexors to be longer, so if your hip flexors are short, you’re going to have an unathletic swing.”
While most amateur golfers think that they need to swing hard and fast to hit the ball, Lee says that is not the case — you really need flexibility and mobility.
Lee’s favorite tools for golf exercises for flexibility and improving mobility are foam rollers and TRX bands. She also recommends warming up your shoulders before playing to avoid tearing your rotator cuffs.
Lower Body Exercises for Golfers
While mobility on top is key, Lee notes that your lower body has to be able to generate a lot of power. Just like in baseball pitching, a golfer’s lower body has to move first to create torque.
“People will try to swing their arms, but that’s not going to generate power,” Lee says. “You need a strong lower body and core — your glutes, quads, abdomen and lower back. And having good balance is really key.”
To improve your strength and your balance, Lee recommends Pilates, yoga and bodyweight exercises, such as squats or pull-ups.
There are two different kinds of golf stretches: static stretching and active stretching.
Lee explains that static stretching involves standing in one spot, while active stretching includes movement. In golf, active stretching is key. Moves like walking lunges get the blood flowing so that your body is warm and ready to swing.
“You’ve got to do exercises and stretches that are going to lengthen your muscles,” Lee says.
The Importance of Self-Care
Though some people try to improve their game by concentrating elsewhere, Lee explains that this is wrongheaded.
“Anybody can get new golf clubs. It’s like painting your car. It doesn’t matter what color it is, i.e. what golf clubs you have, because the paint on your car isn’t going to make your vehicle run better,” she analogizes. “A lot of times people just want to get the newest equipment, but really, they need to be working on their body. They need to be working on their car instead of working on the paint job.”
For golfers, the benefit of stretching and exercising for strength and conditioning goes far beyond just improving your swing in the moment.
“Golf is one of the only sports that people are playing into their 80s and 90s. It’s a lifelong sport,” Lee says. “Keeping yourself flexible and protecting yourself from injury is going to let you play golf longer without pain.”
To learn more about ways to improve your golf game, read our blog post with tips from Golf Academy of America’s instructors.