14 Ways to Improve Your Golf Game — for Free

“Golf is a good walk spoiled,” Mark Twain once noted. We can’t vouch for Twain’s golf skills, but we can heartily support his opinion that golf is a good walk! And walking is one of the easiest steps we can take to boost our health.

Golf helps your heart health by increasing your heart rate and blood flow. The exercise you get from golf can help you control or lose weight and sleep better. Plus the workout can be a stress reducer and a brain function booster! A Swedish study found golf may even help you live longer!

That said, golf also injures a lot of players. More than 131,000 players were treated for golf-related injuries in 2015.

An injury will slow you down. And it can negatively impact your game costing you distance and accuracy on the course.

If you have a sports injury of any kind or would like to learn how to avoid injuries, sports health specialists and a support team are available to help you!

Golf injuries, like many sports-related injuries, can be reduced or avoided if you take some common-sense steps before you get hurt.

Common Golf Injuries

Most golf injuries result from overuse. Repeated golf swings stress the same muscles, tendons and joints over and over.

Golfers commonly experience hand numbness or tenderness; shoulder, back and knee pain and elbow or wrist discomfort. Tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome are typical golfing injuries. These can affect your club control and make the game uncomfortable.

How to Avoid Golf Injuries

Warming up and stretching is the best way to avoid injury in any sport. Warming up like the pros before a round of golf gets your blood flowing and raises your muscle temperature.

Your stretches should focus on muscles in your arms, wrists, shoulders, back and legs.

Let’s take look at some specific injuries and the steps you can take to reduce your injury susceptibility.

Warming Up Your Wrists

Here are some stretches that can help reduce wrist or elbow discomfort. In addition to the stretches, you can also slow your golf swing to reduce the stress on your arm when your club hits your ball.

  1. Wrist flexion / extension – Holding your arm in front of you, bend your wrist up and down repeating 10 to 20 times.
  2. Wrist extension stretch – Keep your elbow straight holding your hand up as if to signal stop. With your other hand, grasp your upright hand at the base of the fingers and bend your wrist back toward your face for a mild stretch. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with your other hand.
  3. Wrist flexion stretch – Keep your elbow straight. Bend your hand down so you can see your palm. With your other hand, grasp your down-turned hand at the knuckles and bend it toward your body until you feel a mild stretch. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with your other hand.

Preparing Shoulders for the Links

  1. Shoulder blade squeeze / stretch – Stand or sit with upright posture. Let your shoulder blades roll forward, then bring your blades back together. Keep your hands at your sides, allowing motion to occur at your shoulder blades only. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
    Then stretch your shoulder by bringing your arm across your body and pulling your elbow toward your back. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat on each side.

Stretching Your Core and Legs

Here are some stretches that you can do at home before you leave for the course:

  1. Back arch / sag – Position yourself on the floor on your hands and knees with your shoulders over hands and hips over knees. Your head and neck should remain relaxed throughout this stretch.
    Slowly arch your back like a cat. Then slowly drop your back to allow it to sag like an old horse. Your chest should drop, too. Keep your elbows straight. Try to start each movement with your pelvis. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
    Then ease your buttocks back toward your heels while keeping your hands in place on the floor. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  2. Trunk (back) side bending – On your hands and knees as in the back arch /sag, turn your head to the right, looking to the outside of your right foot. You should feel a stretch on the left side of your trunk. Repeat this motion 5 times on each side.
    Then place your hands together and ease your buttocks back toward your heels. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  3. Standing side of trunk stretch – Raise your right arm beside your head and reach it across your body. You can grasp a door frame to help hold your balance. Step back your right leg and cross it to the left side of your body. Hold this stretch for 10 t o 20 seconds.
  4. Abdominal trunk rotation – Lie on your back with your knees bent at about 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Slowly reach elbow toward the opposite knee while raising your knee. Repeat 10 to 20 times. As long as it’s comfortable, add one or two repetitions each time you do this exercise.
  5. Sitting rotation –  Sitting with upright posture, fold your arms across your body. Turn your head and shoulders so you’re looking over your shoulder. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Repeat looking over opposite shoulder. Perform this controlled motion without straining.
    Repeat, but this time keep your head looking forward. Rotate left and right and repeat 5 to 10.
  6. Hip rotator stretch – Lie on your back with your knee bent at a right angle and your foot flat on the floor. Your arms can lie at your side.
    Slowly lower your knee outward until a stretch is felt on the inner thigh. Bring your knee across your body to feel a stretch in your outer hip area. Repeat 10 times.
  7. Low back / buttock stretch – Lie on your back with your legs parallel and straight. Bring one knee toward your chest. Place your hands behind the knee, gently pull the knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your buttock and lower back. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times per leg.
    Variation: Bring your knee toward the opposite shoulder to stretch the lateral buttock.
  8. Hip warm-up – Stand behind a dining chair or other chair that has a back high enough that you can rest one hand on the chair back while standing erect. Stand with the chair to your side and your feet about shoulder width apart.
    Keeping your knee straight, slowly raise the leg that’s opposite the chair sideways until you can’t comfortably lift it farther. Repeat the lift 3 to 5 times per leg.
  9. Hip stretch – Stand facing a stable chair, place your left foot on the seat. Lower your chest until it touches your left knee. Let right hip lean forward. Stretch should be felt in the front of your right hip. If you don’t feel a stretch, move your right foot farther away from the chair. Hold the stretch position for 20 seconds.
    Keep your chest on your knee and turn your head to the left to look over the left shoulder. Repeat 5 times.
    Then do this stretch with your right foot on the bench and repeat 5 times.
  10. Single leg balance – Stand in front of chair that you can hold to balance if needed. Turn your side to the chair.
    Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Position your kneecap over your toes. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Each time you do this activity, hold the position longer until you can do it for one minute. Repeat 5 times.
    Repeat standing on the other leg.
    As you progress, work toward balancing on one leg without using the chair for support.
    Once you feel comfortable, perform this activity with your eyes closed. It’s a great balance exercise!

You don’t have to do all these stretches. You know your body and where you could use more flexibility. Try all or some of them to see how they feel.

These exercises will help you build your flexibility and strength. Having a good physical foundation will help your golf game and reduce your chances for injury. Plus, these exercises are way more affordable than that new driver or putter you’ve been considering!

Before starting any exercise or stretching program, see your health care provider to ensure you can do it safely.

Here are some additional tips for preventing golf-related injuries:

  • Stay hydrated. If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Keep in mind: Alcohol can contribute to dehydration.
  • Use sunscreen to protect your skin. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Hours on the course can damage your skin and eyes. Sunburn can contribute to skin cancer.
  • If there’s lightening in the area, seek shelter. Lightening clouds don’t need to be right overhead to strike you. On average, 310 people are injured or killed by lightening each year.
  • If you carry your clubs, take care to distribute the weight evenly across your upper body. Poorly distributed weight can lead to injury.
  • If riding a cart, keep your feet inside it. Players have been injured when their leg gets caught under the cart. Note: Riding the cart dramatically reduces the health positives of golf.

You’ll find more helpful health information on the Aurora Health Care Facebook page! Like us when you visit!

Meet the Author

Paul Anthony Fagan, DO is an Orthopedic surgeon and Sports Medicine specialist at Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh, WI 

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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