Get Fit

By Karen Misuraca

January 30, 2009 5 min read

GET FIT

Plenty of exercises can improve your game

Karen Misuraca

Creators News Service

"Golf is a game of rotation and flexibility," said Kris Moe, the director of Kris Moe Golf Schools based in Sonoma, Calif. "Staying flexible during the off-season with stretching and repetitive motions, and strengthening your core, are the keys to getting ready to play in the spring."

He said that many normal exercise practices are perfect for golfers, too. "I recommend workouts using light weights with brisk repetition and doing 'side plank' exercises for the abdominal muscles that wrap around the midsection," he added. "Regular yoga practice is also good for rotating and lengthening the muscles that can get tight over the wintertime."

Moe also recommends monitoring the look and feel of your swing by standing in front of a full-length mirror or a sliding glass door and checking your posture and swing angle from various positions.

TRAIN HEAVY

Eliezer Lara, a teaching pro at the El CamaleĆ³n Golf Club at the Mayakoba Resort on Mexico's Riviera Maya, the home of the PGA Tour, advised golfers to swing every day with a heavy training club.

"You can use the Momentus [Swing Trainer], which is a weighted club with a built-in grip, or even just swing back and forth 10 or 12 times with three clubs, then with two clubs, then one," he said. "Do this every day, all year long, and you'll be surprised how strong your arms and back will be."

Jerry Couzynse, director of golf at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Fla., home of the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy, tells his students to increase strength in their arms and hands by carrying a tennis ball and squeezing it as often as they can, making sure to alternate hands.

Another of Couzynse's tips is performing the body pivot drill while on the course. Standing upright, fold your arms across your chest, holding a club across your shoulders. Bend forward from the waist creating a straight back and the feeling of your rear end sticking out, and then rotate your shoulders around your spine until you feel a slight catch in your lower back. Rotate your shoulders forward until your body is facing the target and allow your weight to transfer to the back foot and then to the front foot, ensuring that your back foot is on the toe when finished. If you cannot get out on the course or the practice range, do the drill in front of a mirror and visualize a longer, straighter ball.

STRAIGHT BACK

Katherine Roberts, a contributor on The Golf Channel and author of "Yoga for Golfers: A Unique Approach to Golf Fitness" ($19, McGraw-Hill), has demonstrated a variety of "fitness fixes" and exercises on her website, www.krflexfit.com. For her, posture is everything.

"A common physical restriction that I see is the 'C' posture, referring to the C shape of the rounded back or slumped shoulders, which can result from aging, too much sitting, or overtraining the chest muscles without flexibility conditioning," she said.

"To develop a stronger, straighter back, try the rhomboid stretch. Stand with the arms extended slightly below shoulder height. Clasp the hands together, palms facing inward. Inhale deeply and on the exhalation press the arms away from you, tucking the chin into the chest. On the inhalation, lift the head and pull the shoulder blades together, keeping the shoulders down. Repeat five to ten times. To build more strength in your upper back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for an extra breath."

Roberts adds a hip stretch to add power to the golf swing by stretching muscles and supporting the lumbar spine. Lying on your back, begin with the feet wider than your yoga mat, knees bent. Inhale as you lower your legs to the left. Exhale and bring the legs back to the starting position. Switch sides as you move dynamically ten times in each direction.

Shawn Cox, director of golf at The Grand Del Mar resort in San Diego, suggested a drill that will help alleviate the lack of stability and loss of proper posture -- the most common problems he sees in golfers.

"To attain a repeatable and consistent golf swing, there is no more important muscle group than the gluteals (the buttocks), and stronger glutes will help with lower back pain, too. You can create a firm foundation in your lower body and core with the bridge with leg extension," he said.

"Lie on your back on the floor, bend one knee, lift your back and alternate lifting and extending each leg for ten seconds at a time [if your hamstring cramps, you are not using your glutes]. Do this every day and you will teach your muscles how to fire and stabilize so that you can call on them again and again in your swing."

Karen Misuraca is the founder of BestGolfResortsofTheWorld.com

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