Posts Tagged ‘golf’

Improve Your Golf Game by Strengthening Your Core

A golfer’s score ultimately is determined by athletic talent, amount of time devoted to practicing and playing, and level of physical fitness.

If you’re like most golfers, you probably overlook the fitness component and try to get by on natural talent and regular play.female golfer_pic_4

However, the more rounds you play without working on your conditioning, the greater are your chances of injury.

Mike Markee, PT, ATC, instructor of physical therapy and athletic training at Saint Louis University, has spent time on the senior PGA tour and developed exercise and fitness programs for golfers.

“It is possible to avoid injury and improve performance, especially through muscle strength and proper form,” says Markee.

“The great thing is that the same things that help you avoid injury also will improve your game.”

He recommends 3 things to keep your body in shape for golf:


There can be a lot of down time in golf, and so it takes deliberate focus to keep moving.

Stretch before, during, and after each round.

If you’re able to walk and the course allows, skip the cart and earn a few miles under your belt by the end of the game.


Golfers use the muscles closest to the spine, including hip and shoulder muscles.

This is where the power comes from in your golf swing, and, likewise, a weakness in your core can lead to an unbalanced swing, with some muscles compensating for others.

“It used to be thought that flexibility was most important thing in golf.

Golfers worried that too much muscle would cause them to lose flexibility,” says Markee.

“But, with rise of Tiger Woods and now Rory Mcllroy, we’ve seen that you can develop more power by training the right muscles.

Now we know that strength training and flexibility aren’t polar opposites, and, in fact, core strength training can actually improve your performance.

“From a health care perspective, a muscle weakness in the core or hip is something we can remedy through physical therapy or athletic training.”


Golf’s main injury risk comes from the repeated motions of the swing.

Working with a pro to learn to swing properly can help you reduce forces on the spine due to twisting and rotating and ensure that you aren’t developing bad habits that can take their toll on your back, shoulder, and elbow.

Amateur golfers generate greater sheer force on their spine compared to professionals, Markee notes.

“Usually back pain comes from the twisting that puts stress on the spine,” he says.

“Back injuries from golf are very common.

If golfers lose their spine angle on the back swing, it can increase forces on the spine, causing back pain. The torsion can be damaging if done over and over.”

Learn from a pro about proper swing to develop good body mechanics and avoid pain down the line, and, if you do have pain, consult a physician sooner rather than later to avoid exacerbating the problem.

New Sunscreen Labels Decoded

If you’re out in the sun playing tennis or golf, jogging or cycling, you need to protect your skin from the damaging ultraviolet rays.

Newly revised sunscreen labels should make it easier for you to make a smart choice on which products to use.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that labels must provide information about whether a sunscreen will protect against skin cancer in addition to sunburn, and will also have to indicate whether a sunscreen is water-resistant, which is what you want if you’re exercising outside.

To reduce your risk of skin cancer and early aging, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with the following features listed on the label:

Broad spectrum, which means the sunscreen protects against ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.

A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

SPF 15 is the FDA’s minimum recommendation for protection, but the academy recommends an SPF of at least 30.

Water-resistant for up to either 40 or 80 minutes.

This means the sunscreen provides protection while swimming or sweating for the length of time listed on the label.

Available sunscreen options include lotions, creams, gels, ointments, wax sticks, and sprays.

Creams are best for dry skin and the face.

Gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest.

Sticks are good to use around the eyes.

Sunscreen should be applied liberally, and should be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or excessive sweating, according to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.

Dermatologists recommend the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen per application.

Sunscreens that are not water resistant must include a direction instructing consumers to use a water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.

Karthik Krishnamurthy, DO, chief dermatology consultant with the Melanoma Program at Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care, offers the following tips for the summer season:

Give skin the once-over.

Just one full-body skin check by a physician can be a lifesaver.

Additionally, monthly self-exams from the top of the head to the soles of the feet are highly effective in detecting early warning signs of melanoma, such as a mole that looks different.

“I remind patients of the ‘ABCDE’ rule to detect changes in a mole: A is for asymmetry, B is for border, C is for color, D is for diameter, and E is for evolving,” says Krishnamurthy.

“Any suspicious-looking moles or moles that have changed shape or color should be looked at by a physician as soon as possible.”

Know your risk.

Just one blistering sunburn, even in childhood, is enough to substantially increase your lifelong risk for melanoma.

Other risks include frequent sunbathing or indoor tanning, and a family history of melanoma.

“Fair-skinned individuals with red or blond hair and light-colored eyes are also at higher risk,” says Krishnamurthy.

Don’t assume darker skin makes you immune.

A survey of 1,000 Hispanic adults in New York and Miami conducted by Krishnamurthy showed alarming misconceptions about perceived risk.

Nearly half believed those with darker skin cannot get skin cancer.

“This is very concerning because although melanoma is less common in darker-skinned individuals, there is a higher risk of late diagnosis with advanced melanomas and lower survival rates,” he says.

Another way to prevent skin cancer is to wear protective clothing, such as a broad-brimmed hat to protect the back of the neck and ears, which are highly susceptible areas.

Darker clothes and hats block more dangerous ultraviolet rays than light-colored ones, but you have to balance out heat problems.

A light-colored cotton shirt has an SPF of about 8.

The bottom line: choose the best sunscreen for you and use it early and often to protect your skin before you head out to play your chosen sport.

Playing Surface Matters in Golf Injuries

Although golf is not considered a strenuous sport, about one-third of recreational golfers sustain an injury each year.

And about two-thirds of golfers over age 50 suffer some type of golf injury.

Sports medicine doctors know that golfers who return to action after a long layoff are at high risk of an injury.

Overstretching a joint or muscle may result in a sprain or muscle pull, causing many miserable Mondays after that first weekend back to golf.

Topping the list of golfer’s injuries are the back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee.

To prevent back injuries, strengthen the abdominal muscles with crunches (bent-knee sit-ups).

Shoulder raises with light dumbbells help prevent shoulder problems.

Squeezing a small rubber ball with each hand strengthens the forearms and helps protect the elbows and wrists from damage.

For the knees, strengthen the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh (leg extensions) and the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh (leg curls).

New research presented on June 2 at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting and the 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine suggests that golfers recovering from or prone to injury should limit playing or practicing on natural grass.

Andrea Fradkin, PhD, an associate professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA, says “certain parts of the body may be subjected to greater forces on natural grass, increasing the potential for injury or re-injury.”

If you’re coming back to the links after an injury, first head to the driving range to hit balls off the mat easily a few times to get your muscles used to swinging again.

At home, develop a daily stretching routine.

Spending just a little time stretching regularly will give you an edge over your golfing buddies and consistently shave a few strokes off your scores.

It also helps insulate you from a further injury.

Golfers should concentrate on stretching the trunk, shoulders, and hamstring and calf muscles.

For the trunk, place a club behind your head, rotate and hold for 20 seconds, then turn back and hold again for 20 seconds.

For the shoulders, stretch one arm across your body and hold for 20 seconds, then repeat with the other arm.

For the hamstring and calf muscles, do toe touches for 20 seconds at a time.

Once you have recovered from an injury, before you play warm up, stretch, then hit a bucket of balls on the driving range, progressing from short irons to longer clubs.

After you play, go through your stretching program.

One good stretch in each area will prevent soreness the next day.