Your Health

Improve your golf swing with physical therapy

As any experienced golfer would tell you, developing a strong and consistent swing is critical to playing a good game.

A golfer must develop proper form for to master his or her swing, which is only possible with strong core muscles and good flexibility. Maintaining a powerful core can improve your golf swing while reducing pain and injury.

Building a strong swing

A golf swing is a complex and sophisticated maneuver requiring strength, skill and focus. You will have to devote the many hours of practice it takes to develop a good swing, and a physical therapist can help you develop the strength and flexibility you will need.

There are many factors that amateur golfers must take into account to improve their swings, including a proper stance, coordination and balance, a fluid range of motion in the core muscle groups, strength and accuracy.

If you are recovering from an injury or surgery – or if you suffer from chronic pain or some other condition that can affect your ability to complete a golf swing – your body will naturally attempt to compensate as you work to improve. For those who are veterans of the sport, the resulting changes after an injury or illness can undo years of practice.

A physical therapist can help you find the area where you are compensating and give you guidance to correct the problem with your swing. Swing limitations could be caused by tightness near the location of an injury, a weakened muscle or back pain.

Of course, any good physical therapy regimen also comes with a number of activities you can do at home to support your recovery.

At-home exercises

If you want to improve your golf game, start by doing these four at-home golf exercises consistently, and notice the results in your swing.

• Elbow plank. Place your elbows beneath your shoulders and pull your shoulder blades down and back, similar to a push-up. Pull in your deep abdominal muscles and glutes for stability. Hold for 20 seconds. As you gain strength, hold the plank for longer periods of time.

• Core strengthening. Lie on your back with your deep abdominal muscles pulled in alternately, then lift your legs either one at a time or together.

• Pectoral stretch. Either in a doorway or facing a corner, place your hands and elbows against the wall or doorframe and lean forward gently to stretch your pectoral muscles.

• Side shoulder rotation. While lying on one side, lift your arm straight up. Point at the ceiling and lower your arm to the floor while keeping your trunk stabilized.

Include these exercises in your golf routine and discover the difference. Do not perform any of these exercises if there are any adverse physical conditions affecting the arms, torso or back. Consult your physician before beginning any fitness routine.

Kim Gladfelter is owner, physical therapist and Pilates instructor at PhysioFit Physical Therapy and Wellness, 1000 Fremont Ave., Los Altos. For more information, call 887-6064 or visit physiofitpt.com.

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