October 25, 2011

Be An Athlete And Get Off The Cart

The average golfer tends to take up golf at an age when he or she is no longer racing around the sports field, nor any other physically demanding sports. Golf is generally viewed as a game of technical skill rather than an athletic event, requiring less exertion than other sports. This common misconception often leads to injuries and/or premature performance plateaus.

 Golf is a highly athletic event!

To put it into perspective, the head of a golf club can travel at over one hundred miles per hour – comparable to some of the fastest pitches in professional baseball. Amateur golfers achieve approximately 90% 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.

Golfers fail to consider that a ball is struck 30 to 40 times with high intensity during a round of golf. This level of intensity and muscular activation equates golf with such sports as football, martial arts and hockey.

Golf being the highly athletic event that it is, requires the body to be flexible, and powerful.  This requires an exercise and stretching regimen to maximize your potential.  But it also calls out to avoid actions that do not support an athletic body

 Sitting On A Cart Does Not Promote A Good Golf Game

It has always been mind blowing to me for anyone who wants to play their best golf to sit and ride in a cart. You will hear the term core training thrown around gyms a lot these days. Any golf fitness trainer worth their weight will talk about the importance of conditioning the core for golf.

Sitting is one of the fastest ways to shut down the core and tighten up the hips. This is the exact opposite of what any golfer could want. Sitting especially shuts down the deep abdominal musculature, known as the transverse abdominals (TVA). The TVA helps stabilize the spine and allows you to create torque.

In the seated position the psoas musculature tightens and shortens, making it harder to fully bring your hips through. The lower abdominals begin to disengage making it harder to stabilize your pelvis and maintain your center of gravity.  In both cases, you lose the ability to swing the club as powerfully as your body is capable of achieving.  Tight hips and a weak core mean loss of distance and accuracy.

 A Simple Answer To Promote Your Athleticism On the Golf Course

One of the simplest answers to fix this problem is to get out of the cart and walk 18 holes like an athlete. The golf cart is the equivalent of using a club cadet scooter at Walmart – it should be reserved for the morbidly obese and physically handicapped.

I know this sounds like tough talk but true athletes, those that want to really excel in the pursuit of their sport need to hear straight talk. Not only will walking make me respect you a little bit more, but it could drastically improve your game.

Walking can activate the core. The contralateral motion of the shoulders and the hips engages the muscles of the back, abdomen, and hips, keeping them loose and neurologically ready for dynamic motion.

 This Will Also Help A Bad Back

If your back hurts — and for seven of 10 Americans it sometimes does — the cure may be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. Walking can lessen pain, hasten healing, boost strength, increase flexibility, and, in the long run, prevent recurrences.

Need proof? A 2004 study in The Spine Journal showed that a single session of an exercise such as walking can reduce low back pain 10 to 50 percent. And a 1993 study found that just 10 minutes of treadmill walking led to a significant reduction in back pain.  Walking works because it stimulates the brain to release serotonin and endorphins, neurotransmitter chemicals that make you feel better physically and mentally.

If you are not accustomed to walking the course then start off by trying a few holes at a time.  Work up to walking nine holes and then grab a cart for the back nine.  But ultimately, one of the simplest answers to improving your fitness and your game is to ditch the cart.


This article is written by Bill Esch
Bill Esch is the founder of Smith and Esch Fitness, United States Weightlifting sports performance specialist, and a C.H.E.K Golf biomechanics coach.



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