Fit for golf

Written by Shona A Singh | Updated: Apr 27 2008, 06:56am hrs
With so many professional golfers plagued with injuries Englishman David Howell has just recovered from neck and back injuries while Asias two time number one, Thongchai Jaidee is suffering from a back problem that left him short of practice for the BMW Open, just his third tournament appearance this year.

Professional sportsmen have the highest rate of sport related injuries as they are continuously striving for better performances, hence pushing themselves to the limit. With competition at its toughest, sportsmen have to work hard to maintain peak performance and even harder to remain physically fit in order to endure the rigors of continuous travel and tournament pressure.

Jeev Milkha Singh is one of the most travelled professional golfers in the world today he plays for around 40 weeks every year and he practices yoga to remain fit. It has helped him stay physically and mentally strong through years of travel across Asia, Japan, Europe and America.

Yoga is currently regarded as one of the best ways to maintain fitness in golf. Though Tiger Woods performance has perpetrated the benefits of high intensity exercises like weight lifting in order to hit the ball longer and get stronger, yoga is still considered the best form of exercise by most professionals as it helps to strengthen the muscles and keep them lean, which is what all golfers need. All too often an amateurs loose complete control of their swings due to over indulgence in wrong exercises or even just lifting weights, which leads to stiffness.

Some of the most common injuries that golfers face are often related to the back, since the golf swing tends to put most pressure on the lower back, specially if you try to hit the ball really hard for those extra few yards! Other problems golfers face include injuries around the shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. Club golfers face the highest risk as most of them head out of their offices or homes and straight on to the first tee. They usually take a couple of practice swings and are off for a round of golf.

Most golf magazines have sections on fitness, which guide players about the kind of exercises or basic stretches they can perform before they get on to the tee. However, even if you do not have access to such guidance, simple yoga stretches that open out the arm and leg muscles as well as the back are usually good enough. The golf swing is strenuous enough and you do not want to hit a shot that leaves you bent over due to a muscle spasm. There have been enough cases of professionals whose careers have ended prematurely after back injuries sustained on the course.

What ever your choice, it is better to spend some time in preparing for a round of golf, or even just a session on the driving range. Golf is a healthy activity, spent outdoors in some of the most beautiful locations in the world, so it is definitely worth ensuring that you can continue to do so for as long as you like or as long as you live. A healthy pre-game routine not only ensures this but will also help cut off a few shots from your score you will not have to ruin the first few holes warming up! So go out and enjoy your game but make sure you always stay in control.