Norman, who has kept himself in phenomenal shape, was the worlds number one player for 331 weeks during a stretch in the 80s and 90s. So his performance at the British Open may not have been out of the realm of possibility, but still astonishing considering he would have been the oldest champion by five years. Normans performance is now inspiring 50-somethings all over the world to get out and play golf.
A study, conducted by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, shows that people that play golf enjoy a longer life expectancy. But another study shows that as we age, our flexibility in our muscles and range of motion in our joints decreases, which can be detrimental to the golf swing. As we age, a multitude of physiological changes occur to the body. One of the major changes is the loss of flexibility. As we age we lose the elasticity properties of our muscles and surrounding connective tissues mainly due to physical inactivity and chronological muscle atrophy. Senior golfers, in particular, need to pay special attention to a pre-round golf warm-up and stretching routine.
Moving muscles, which are cold, can often result in musculoskeletal injury. Warming up prior to a round of golf helps improve blood flow and increases muscle temperature. An increase in muscle temperature improves the elasticity properties of muscles and surrounding connective tissues allowing for greater movement. Greater movement ability helps to generate power in the golf swing sequence and has shown to improve club head speed. Increasing research favors the use of a sport-specific dynamic warm-up over a typical bout of slow static stretching.
A good warm-up and stretching routine should be part of an overall golf fitness program. A golf-specific program can go a long way in preventing injury and improving performance no matter what your age. The focus of a good golf fitness program should be on preventing injuries from happening (pre-habilitation) as opposed to treating injuries once they occur (re-habilitation).
A golf-specific warm-up routine should emphasize muscles primarily involved in the golf swing path. Essential areas of the body targeted in the golf swing path include the hip, shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings. Here are a few exercises that can be used as part of a dynamic golf warm-up routine.
Windmills:Place your driver across your back and between your elbows. In a golf stance rotate your body from left to right for about 10-15 repetitions. This exercise targets the lower back helping to prepare the body for a full turn during the golf swing.
Over Head Squats:Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a club in your hand and extend your arms in front of you. Squat down while raising the club into an overhead position. Lower the club while returning to the starting position. (Variation: you can rotate the club from left to right upon squatting instead of raising it overhead). Perform about 10-15 repetitions. This exercise is great for warming-up the shoulders and legs.
YTWs:Assume a golf stance and raise your arms over-head to form a letter Y. Next, return the arms to the starting position and raise them back to from a letter T perpendicular to your spine. Finally, return your arms back to your starting position and form a 90-degree angle with your arms. Extend your arms backward to form the letter W. Repeat the entire sequence of YTWs for about 10 repetitions. You should concentrate on engaging the abdominals and maintaining a neutral spine position through the entire movement sequence. This is an excellent exercise for scapular stabilization and helps to warm up the upper body muscles.
Brett Cook MS, CSCS, USAW is a Professor of Exercise Science at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Cook is a golf performance specialist at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a certified strength and conditioning coach and has worked with the Bahamas Davis Cup Tennis Team and the St. Louis Cardinals.
(Please note that these exercises are among many that can help improve your flexibility and movement function. Consult a certified golf fitness professional in your area to develop an overall routine, which fit your needs and individual abilities. To find one in your area, log onto golffitnessmagazine.com and click on the Golf Fitness Pro Directory tab.)
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