The Healthy Golfer Blog

The recent weather here in Victoria, BC hopefully served as a reminder to get ourselves conditioned for another great year of golf. As we approach spring, let's review some simple and important aspects to getting ready for increased golf play:


Firstly, it is important to have good posture. The reason is that posture promotes good mobility and good mobility allows the body to operate more efficiently, which for golfer’s means a smooth backswing and follow through. Conversely, a poor posture = poor address + poor swing path. Secondly, increasing your flexibility is also necessary to better enjoy success at golf. The spine is the main rotational component, which is pivotal in the golf swing. With greater flexibility comes greater spinal rotation and thus a more solid golf swing. Finally, you need strength to play golf well. Specific muscle groups need to be strengthened to prevent injury, to give stability to the joints and increase club head speed, this promotes good correlated muscle group co-ordination resulting in smooth and efficient backswing and follow through. The three major causes of most injuries while playing golf are de-conditioning, lack of proper flexibility and improper swing mechanics.


Golf is not a maximum-effort sport.

Golf is maximum-ability sport.


Professional golfers are more cognizant than ever of the physical demands of what they do. Take a look at look at the Top Ten golfers; they all follow conditioning programs regularly and consistently. Pro golfer Arnold Palmer told radio talk show host Larry King a few years ago, “The players that are in better shape play better, last longer and win more than the others.”


Here are some simple techniques that can help with your golfing while on the course:

  • Opposite Swing: During the round, golfers can swing reverse of their norm to help maintain better rotation and to help keep “loose” especially during times of slow play. Rotation is one of the key elements for the golf swing.
  • T-Ball Swing: it’s helpful if most of the practice swings are taken at waist-high level. This promotes better rotation and follow-through. It also helps prevent sliding the hips.
  • Keeping Loose: For those golfers who walk and carry their bags, it’s a good idea for them to raise their arms to shoulder level and reach backwards to help relieve the tension from carrying the bag. This also helps “loosen” the shoulders and rotator cuffs.
  • Fitness first: At home regular intervals of walking help overall good health and well-being. Also, concentrating on “core” exercises provides better balance, and helps to add stability to the spine and lower back, which can enhance the golf swing (read Sept. 04 article on Core Training).

It is important to understand that the main basics of a successful swing are static; for example, stance, foot position, ball position, grip, grip pressure, weight distribution, balance and alignment.


A study in Britain has shown that there is a higher incidence of injuries among golfers on the front nine holes compared with the back nine holes. It is therefore important to analyse your golf preparation not only to prevent injury but to also play better golf. There are a few “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to ensure you keep golf an enjoyable experience.


Before Golf

Don’t Carry out intensive domestic chores before playing golf

 i.e. gardening, cleaning, washing your car

These activities include fixed awkward positions that will affect your posture and limit your rotation in the golf swing.

Do Always break up these activities with short rest breaks and stretching regimes, especially as you get older.


At the golf course

Don’t Rush from the car to the golf course; this will increase the tension in your mind and body, which will in turn inhibit a relaxed swing. In addition, Don’t lean over to the back seat from the front seat to grab your golf equipment; this act is a perfect recipe for neck and shoulder injuries.


On the course or while practicing

Don’t Use poor standard equipment like worn golf shoes and spikes as this will affect your stance and balance. Worn grips can cause tennis elbow and excessive squeezing on the club especially affecting your short game.

Do Get your clubs checked to ensure they are the correct length and fitted personally for you.

Don’t Forget that the temperature in your car is usually different from the temperature outside therefore stretch and warm-up prior to teeing off.

Do Make sure you stretch after you get out of your heated car in the winter and your air-conditioned car in the summer to warm-up your muscles for golf.


If you get the proper training, and keep practicing and working, you too can lower your golf score. You can become good at golf at any age. It just takes the proper training and practice. Remember, contact your local health practitioner to get your preseason golf assessment to find out where you are at and shape up for golf. Call to book your assessment and take your golf game to another level. You can also follow me and get some insight and details about helping your golf game on Twitter - @thehealthygolfr (no this is not a spelling mistake)

When looking at a golf swing, it starts with the individual’s body and their base of support, the feet.  During the golf swing the feet should be the only body part touching the ground.  One of the most underrated aspects of the golf swing is good balance. Great attention is often paid to golf's fundamentals and swing mechanics, but balance is often a forgotten topic.  If there are physical limitations in this area (such as balance), mechanics will be compromised, ultimately ending in poor performance or even worse, injury. This article will aim to identify and implement strategies to overcome any balance deficiencies that may be present in your body.


Balance represents a complex neuromuscular communication system which relies on feedback from the central nervous system to the body.  There are three main systems in our body that affect our balance: eyesight which recognizes what is up and down; the canals in our inner ears which are situated horizontally, vertically and angular and are filled with fluid and hair cells for feedback; and finally, the proprioceptors and mechnoceptors which are tiny message receptors within our joints and muscles, etc. which send signals to our brain for a response to different actions/stimuli taken by the body. Balance is necessary in maintaining appropriate spine, trunk and torso positions throughout the golf swing.


In the game of golf, balance is extremely important from the address of the ball to the finishing stance. Recall in your last golf lesson, the importance of placing your complete weight on your front leg while being able tap the tip of your toes with your rear foot – this is describing how to balance your golf swing mechanics. Balance is one of the most important aspects of a golf swing because good balance can increase your clubhead speed by 5 percent.  If you have poor balance then it is difficult to swing the golf club at your maximum speed and on a consistent plane.  Tour players can swing with ~100 percent efficiency and still maintain proper balance while most amateurs can only swing with 80 percent efficiency and maintain their balance.


The complex motion of a golf swing requires that the body perform a series of tasks in sequence from the feet all the way to the cervical spine, in order to propel that little white ball towards your target with the correct amount of distance and spin. The precision required for this activity is monumental when it gets broken down to the smallest detail. Any variance from the precision required, and your ball travels either left, short, right, long, too high, or too low.


Identifying the sources of variance in the golf swing is often a daunting task. One such source can be linked to a person’s balance or proprioception. As stated above, the only two body parts that should touch the ground in the golf swing are the two feet. However, in many golf swings, the two feet are not working as effectively as possible; thereby compromising the segments above them (knee, hip, lower back, mid back, shoulders, etc...). When a golfer presents with limitations in their ability to maintain their balance throughout the golf swing, it is imperative to determine what level of proprioception that they possess.


In my office I use a TOG Gait Scan to assess a client’s balance.  It is a force plate connected to a computer that can assess what the body is doing from left to right and front to back while standing.  If you have previously been injured or are presently injured your body will compensate to minimize the affected area and alter your body’s balance which in turn may affect your golf game.  There are many different devices that can be used to train your balance: an exercise ball (Swiss ball), wobbleboard, and BOSU (semi dome ball/wobbleboard). These devices create an unstable environment which causes the body to stimulate your nerves and muscle to work to maintain your balance. The other thing that affects balance is tightness in your calf muscles, hamstrings and hips. The lower body provides stability to your golf swing. Stability helps create resistance between your upper and lower body which enables you to produce power. If the muscles in your legs and hips are tight then your lower body will tend to sway and slide in order to support the winding and unwinding of your torso. This lack of stability will cause inconsistent shots and may create both left and right misses.  In addition, working with flexibility exercises will help to increase your golf balance by releasing muscle tension.


When swinging your golf club you want your weight to be balanced on the balls of the feet, not on the heels or toes. With short irons, your weight should be approximately 60-percent on the target side foot (left foot for right-handers). For middle iron shots the weight should be approximately 50/50 or equal on each foot. While for your longest clubs, you want to place about 60% of your weight on the backside foot (right foot for right-handers). This will help you swing the club on the correct angle on the back swing.


Remember before starting any program, it is important to get the approval of a qualified health practitioner.  And finally, the best program is the one that best suits your needs, goals and level of commitment.  Call to book your TPI assessment and plan your golf season. You can also follow me and get some insight and details about helping your golf game on Twitter - @thehealthygolfr (no this is not a spelling mistake)


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