By Greg Doucette, MSPT, OCS and Lance Howard, PTA, CPT
We’ve all done it. Late for a tee time and rushing to the course, we throw our bag on the pull cart and head straight to the first tee box. We don’t even think about how the next four hours will ravage our bodies. Before we know it, we’re swinging away, putting stress on muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons that are not ready for the task. And sure, we may get through the round unscathed, but each time we fail to prepare like this, we inch closer to the edge of the injury cliff. The more we do this, the more likely we are to fall over that edge and end up in pain for weeks or more, keeping us away from golf, work, and everything else we love to do.
So, what should we do? Showing up 20 minutes early to hit a bucket of balls to get loose doesn’t make you ready to play, unfortunately. In fact, hitting a bucket of balls without proper preparation could do more harm than good. A basketball player doesn’t get ready for the game by just shooting free throws. A baseball player doesn’t limit their pregame routine to just throwing. A golfer should not limit his or her preparation to only one part of their sport either.
One of the golden rules for all golfers: You cannot swing to warm up. You must warm up to swing. Warming up before hitting any golf balls decreases your risk of injury and allows you to properly groove your swing on the range before walking up to the first tee.
The average round contains about 3 miles of walking and include over 100 repetitions of bending. Add those elements to the 200-300 swings you may take (including practice swings) during a round and you have over 500 individual opportunities for injury. A comprehensive warm-up routine is the best way to prepare your body for ALL the rigors a round of golf entails.