Rikhi Anandsongkit and his team of physiotherapists give advice on how to best enjoy this evergreen sport.
Golf is a sport of precise biomechanics and muscle memory, so it’s never fun to try and play through pain. You want to reach your full potential and enjoy your game, but pain leads to compromised form and this can lead to further injuries. But with a few targeted mobility and strengthening exercises, you won’t ever have to sit out the golf season with an injury because you’ll be playing better than ever before.
We’ve put together a list below of which major areas of your body to focus on to play at your best throughout the year without worrying about injuries.
Repeated wear and tear of the elbow tendon (especially the inside of your elbow) leads to inflammation due to straining and overworking. Treating the tendon involves resting and icing the area, but only through slowly reloading and building it back up will you be able to hit the golf course again.
However, tendon overuse is directly linked with weaker muscles in the mid-back and shoulders as well as lack of mobility in your wrists. Warm your wrists up before a game and do regular mobility exercises to ensure you can easily reach their full range of motion and take the strain off your elbow. The same goes for your back and shoulders, but focus more on strength training to give them more power. The kinetic chain of your swing will become more efficient and with added mobility, you won’t put extra pressure on your elbow joint.
In daily life, your back usually only deals with bending forward or backwards for tasks like sitting up or reaching to the ground, but what about the other plane of movement? Your back can also twist and rotate effectively and when you swing your golf club, you generate a lot of power by doing this.
However, if you don’t twist or rotate enough on a daily basis, your back will not have the mobility, strength, or endurance to keep this up for long. In fact, you might experience muscle strain or even overstress the joints in your back because of this.
Don’t be afraid to open up your back by doing some mobility exercises before you start swinging on the course. Take your time and work through both planes, that is bending and twisting, and going through the full range of motion. If you have back issues already, try to strengthen your back with some weekly exercises, and don’t neglect your abs either, as they provide a lot of power while twisting your torso. They’ll also support your back muscles and joints while doing this. Ultimately, you will need your back, spine and abs in good condition to get the most power out of your swing with correct form, and without fear of injury.
Knees, Ankles and Hips
The foundation of any good golf game is your feet, knees and hips. They are the platform upon which your game will go, so it’s important to keep an eye on them as well. Your feet and ankles need to be mobile and absorb power as you complete your swing. A strong tibialis muscle (the walking muscle that runs along the front and inside of the leg from knee to ankle) ensures you can effectively support your body weight in the balls of your feet, and ankle flexion allows you to move freely without obstruction.
Calf raises, ankle stretching, tibialis raises, and other lower body exercises not only strengthen these areas but take significant pressure off your knees as well. Speaking of which, your knees also need to be mobile as they will take the force of any pivoting movements you make with your hips and upper body. Ensure your knees can move freely by incorporating some knee mobility exercises to keep your ligaments and joints unharmed.
Finally, tight and weak hips will absolutely bring down your potential on the golf course. Stretch and strengthen your hip flexors, and take frequent breaks from sitting to make sure they stay active and long.
Rikhi Anandsongkit is the owner of Form Physio and Rehab, a physiotherapy clinic that helps adults in Bangkok get back to doing the things they love without painkillers, injections, and surgeries.