Four Easy Steps To Improve Your Golf Game & Stay Fit For Golf

From time to time golfgurls.com invites guest authors to contribute to its posts. Golf fitness expert, Kathy Ekdahl shares some great ideas on keeping yourself in top shape for golf.

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Kathy Ekdahl, Certified TPI Golf Fitness CoachGolfers: Enhance Your Energy and Endurance

Guest Author: Kathleen Ekdahl, ACE CPT, CSCS

Winter is just about gone, and golf season is not far away! This is the time to begin to physically prepare for your golf game. An often neglected area of golf fitness is balance. Good balance is an absolute necessity for a good golf game, not to mention avoiding nasty falls and subsequent injuries! As we age, our body’s ability to balance and navigate unstable surfaces diminishes, while at the same time, bones are more fragile and healing from injuries becomes more and more difficult. This scenario is a recipe for disaster. The good news is that balance can be improved with simple practice and some core stability training and, with consistency and dedication, you could improve your balance and stability within just several weeks.
It is very easy to begin improving your balance.  Take a few minutes every day to practice standing on one leg. Challenge yourself- if you start with only 5-10 seconds- continue to practice until you reach 20 seconds, or even 30 seconds. Once you can stand on one leg for 20 seconds or more, try doing this with your eyes closed. This is quite a challenge.   Most professional golfers can balance on one leg for 20 seconds with eyes closed! Begin by balancing as you hold on to a secure surface. As you improve your balance, work towards balancing without holding on at all. And, while practicing standing on one leg, always keep your upper body lifted, spine erect and abdominals engaged. Looking down at the ground as you balance will throw your posture off, and good posture is key for good balance and a good golf game.
For the next stage, I recommend practicing standing balance on unstable surfaces such as an inflatable disc, but using a pillow from your home will work just as well. These techniques will “fire up” your neuromuscular system, and begin to get your muscles thinking and reacting more easily to unstable surfaces- whether they are a pillow, the ice in your driveway, or the swift movement of a golf club. Supplement this balance work with some core training such as Bridges for your glutes, “Birddog” for your spinal muscles and Plank Holds for your abdominal and back muscles. I also recommend training the lateral hip muscles, important stabilizers for the hip joint and for balance. Something as simple as standing side leg lifts can work, as well as the “Clamshell” exercise- a side lying exercise, sometimes using an exercise band, in which you rotate the hip open like a “Clamshell”.
Lack of balance is a major risk factor for falls, fractures and serious injuries in our day to day activities. But, if this does not motivate you do balance training, perhaps improving your golf game will. Combine balance training with stretching and core strengthening, and you are on your way to having your best golf season ever!

There is one area of golf conditioning that is often overlooked and under appreciated: proper nutrition and hydration while on the course. Golf is a game of endurance interspersed with bouts of power and strength. Your body needs proper nutrition and fluid intake to have the energy to play just as well on the 4th hole as the 14th. Unlike other aspects of golf fitness, proper hydration and nutrition can and will produce immediate improvements in energy and endurance during your golf game THIS weekend!

Here are a few easy tips to enhance energy and endurance:

  1. Eat a well balanced meal of protein and whole grain carbohydrates within two hours of your game. If you are unable to eat a full meal, at least have a snack within one hour of golfing to provide your body with some initial energy. Your snack should be 200 calories or so to last at least for the first few holes. Avoid sugary snacks which will produce an energy crash within an hour or two of eating.
  2. Bring a snack of 200-300 calories to take in two to three hours into your game. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much your energy and strength, not to mention your mental focus, will improve with a small snack.  Examples of good snacks might be a protein/sports bar (watch sugar content), a peanut butter sandwich or nuts and a piece of fruit. You need some good carbohydrates and protein for  long lasting energy
  3. Drink plenty of water before and during your golf game. During the summer months, dehydration can have a great impact on your game, zapping energy and focus, and it can be quite dangerous as well. If you are sweating profusely during your game, you may need more than just water. Diluted fruit juices or Gatorade are excellent choices to keep electrolytes in balance with water intake and to avoid a dangerous condition known as Hyponutremia, or over hydration. Hyponutremia, has become more and more common as people take the advice to “drink water” to it’s extremes. It is often mistaken as dehydration, since this condition has the same symptoms as dehydration.
  4. Avoid alcohol while golfing as alcohol is dehydrating, and a systemic depressant, slowing down muscle contractions and mental acuity and will eventually produce excess fatigue.

All athletes rely on good hydration and nutrition to support their workouts and game play. Golf is no different. And, the long duration of the golf game compared to other recreational endeavors makes proper nutrition and hydration even more important. Start with these tips today, and watch your game immediately improve!

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Kathy Ekdahl, CSCS, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, is the owner of Personal Best Personal Training in Hudson, Massachusetts. She is a former health club owner and has been teaching Yoga since 1997. Kathy is a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor and is the Staff Personal Trainer at The International Golf Club, Bolton, MA. Kathy also coaches Women’s Varsity Lacrosse at Hudson High School.

  2 comments for “Four Easy Steps To Improve Your Golf Game & Stay Fit For Golf

  1. Pat Mullaly
    June 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for your comment Chris. Kathy has great info to share. If you have a fitness question, you can always connect with her through the “Fitness” button in the nav bar at the top of this page.

  2. Chris Bernardo
    June 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing this information, I am going to share this with my list as i find great value in it. Have an Awesome Day!
    Chris

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