Weekly wellness: Simple exercises improve golf game
COLUMBIA - Golf can be an excellent form of exercise. Not only are you walking while carrying a relatively heavy load (as long as you're playing without a cart), but you are also using some major muscle groups when you swing.
Your legs, hips, core and shoulders are all engaged during your golf swing. To help you improve your game, here are some simple "no equipment needed" exercises and stretches you can do:
Standing Trunk Rotations: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a golf club on the handle with the club head sticking up straight in the air (the leverage of the club will create resistance and the movement of the club will work on grip strength). Position your hands at the midline of your body. Exhale and slowly rotate your torso in one direction, keeping your upper arms at your sides, elbows bent and hands positioned at the midline of your body. Perform 8-12 rotations to each side, rest for 30 seconds; repeat two times.
Kneeling hip flexor: From a kneeling position, bring the right foot forward making sure that the right knee is directly over the right ankle and the right hip is bent to about 90 degrees. Place both hands gently on the right thigh to help maintain a straight, tall spine. Engage your abdominal/core muscles to brace your spine. Lean forward into your hip while keeping the other leg's knee pressed into the ground. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds on each leg; repeat two times.
Lunge with twist: Like the trunk rotations, hold a golf club straight in the air to create a minimal amount of resistance. The lunge does not need to be deep, simply step forward with either leg, hold the split stance position and rotate away from the forward leg. Perform 8-12 repetitions on each leg (alternating legs); rest for 45 seconds, repeat two times.
Lateral Lunge: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight onto your heels. Engage your abdominals to stabilize the spine. Slowly step to the right while keeping your weight into your left heel with both feet facing forward. Once your right foot is firmly placed on the floor, begin to shift your weight toward the right foot, bending the right knee and pushing the hips back. Continue to lunge until your shinbone is vertical to the floor and your right knee is aligned with the second toe of your right foot. Your left leg should be as straight as possible and your body weight should be distributed into the right hip. The heels of both feet should stay flat on the floor. Push off firmly with your right foot, returning to starting position. Repeat the movement for the opposite side. Perform 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.
Hip Rotator Stretch: Lie on your back, placing the backs of your lower legs and heels on the top of a bench so that the knees are at a ninety-degree bend. Gently contract your abdominal/core muscles to flatten your low back into the floor. Allow your hips to relax into this position. Cross your left leg over the right; resting your left foot on your right knee. Try to maintain the ninety-degree bend in the left knee. With both hands, grab the back of the right thigh. Pull your right thigh and knee toward your chest. The right foot should remain on top of the right leg back along the top of the bench. Hold for 20-30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.
Child's Pose: Come to a hands and knees position (quadruped) on the mat with your toes pointing behind you, big toes touching. Widen your knees towards the outside of the mat as you sit back toward your heels. As you sit back, try to bring your hips all the way to your heels or as far back as possible. Stretch out through your back and arms. Pull the shoulders down and back. Keep them away from your ears. Allow your chest to rest between your thighs and your forehead to rest on the floor. Hold for 20-30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.
After a few weeks of adding these exercises into your routine, you'll find improvements in how your body feels - and in your swing.