It Don’t Mean a Thing if You Ain’t Got that Swing

Exercises to improve your golf game

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Justin Wiles, Eagle Point Golf Club instructor, demonstrates some exercises to improve flexibility. All photography by Dustin Peters.

The links may be calling you as the spring season arrives. Perhaps you attempted to stay in shape over the long winter months. But if you mostly sat by the fire and watched Netflix, you may need a little preparation before you jump back in to your golf game.

The American lifestyle places undue stress on our back muscles, says Justin Wiles, Eagle Point Golf Club instructor. “Because most people sit a lot during their daily activities, muscle groups that are essential for golfers get tight and restricted,” he says. “Sitting for hours each day can cause back muscles to stretch to their limits and core muscles to become weak. This also creates rounded shoulders, overly stretched hamstrings and tight quads leading to a forward tilt of the pelvis, which ultimately leads to lower back pain.”

Jayson Tonkin, certified personal trainer at Precision Fitness in Medford, echoes these concerns. “Men who sit at a desk all day generally have tight biceps and chest muscles,” he says.

Flexibility is important for a consistent golf swing, Tonkin adds. “Choose 8-12 stretches and do the same exercises every time. Whether you are going to the driving range or the course, it is important to do them and always do both sides,” he says. “Golf is a redundant game. You do the same motions over and over. If you only exercise one side, you end up with a side that is tight and one that lengthens. Try just swinging the club in both directions.”

You don’t need a special place or special equipment to do these stretches, Tonkin says. “You can stretch your calves against the curb when you get out of your vehicle. You can do lateral stretches by holding onto the door handle of your truck and letting your body hang to one side which lengthens your lats and biceps. It is also good for lower back pain. Along with lunges, these exercises will not only improve your golf game, they will improve your overall health and flexibility. To learn the correct way to do these and other exercises, you can always consult a trainer or YouTube.”

GET READY TO GOLF

Titanic stretch

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Wiles says that the “titanic stretch” is excellent for rounded shoulders. “From a standing position, move your arms behind your hips and rotate your palms toward the sky,” he describes. “From this position, tilt your head backward as if you are trying to look at the wall behind you. breathe deeply and hold the position for five seconds. Do this stretch once an hour during the workday and you should feel a noticeable difference in your upper back and your entire body the next time you play golf.”

Split squats/lunges

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“A great exercise to strengthen both hamstrings and quads at the same time is split squats,” Wiles says. “From a standing position, take one leg and step forward slightly further than a normal stride. Drop your body down until your trail leg is almost touching the floor then push back up to starting position. Do three sets of 10 lunges per leg every day. Your legs will start to strengthen, and lower back pain will begin to alleviate. If you bend over to touch your toes thinking it will stretch your hamstrings, be sure to do it with a straight back. Bend over just until you feel your shoulders wanting to round. Hold this position for five seconds while taking deep breaths.”

Chest stretches

“One of my favorite stretches for the chest is the doorjamb or doorway stretch,” Tonkin says. You do this by standing in a doorway and placing your hands flat against the sides of the door about even with your head. Now lean your chest into the doorway opening, while bracing against the doorjamb. Hold for 10-15 seconds. You will feel the stretch in your chest and your shoulder blades. You can also slowly rotate your body side to side while in this position. Do this as often as you want throughout the day to loosen up at home or work.”

Yoga pigeon pose

“Ladies who golf may notice tight glutes from sitting long periods of time with their legs crossed,” Tonkin says. “One excellent stretch for glutes and hip flexors is the yoga pigeon pose. On a mat or the floor, come to table top on all fours. Bring left ankle to right hand and slide the right leg back. Keep you front foot flexed. Keep your hips square and sit up straight. As flexibility increases, you can rest on your forearms and eventually rest your chest on the floor. Switch legs and do the other side. Hold the pose from 10 breaths to five minutes on each side. By stretching the muscles consistently, your golf game will improve.”

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Golf for brain and body

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Every year, millions of Americans, young and old, take to golf courses around the country. Whether for the competition, the social aspect or the fun of it, golf has certain health benefits.

According to Justin Wiles, Eagle Point Golf Club instructor, golf can create a healthy lifestyle for many people. “Walking 18 holes is equal to about 6 miles on a full-sized golf course. Add in a 10-20-pound golf bag that you should be carrying yourself instead of using a caddy, and you have a very good exercise for both your heart and legs,” he says. “As much as people see golf as a physical workout, at times it can be an even more effective mental and emotional workout.”

Wiles explains that during 18 holes of golf, players come up against many different situations that have to be studied and solved. “Your brain has to recognize and find a solution to conquer the shot,” he says. “Golf can make the calmest people want to pull their hair out at times! It can also teach a player how to stay patient and levelheaded in difficult situations. A lot of these lessons can be translated into the real world to deal with everyday life.”

“Choose 8-12 stretches and do the same exercises every time. Whether you are going to the driving range or the course, it is important to do them and always do both sides. Golf is a redundant game. You do the same motions over and over. If you only exercise one side, you end up with a side that is tight and one that lengthens. Try just swinging the club in both directions.”

– Jayson Tonkin, Precision Fitness, Medford

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