Golf column: Your clubs are fit for your swing, how about your body?

It’s the end of July and we are in the peak of our Minnesota golf season. You probably haven’t been able to play as much as you’d like, but I hope that you’ve still been able to get a few rounds in.

How is that body holding up? How does your neck feel? What about your shoulders? Or how about your back, hips and knees?

Jon Michalski, assistant golf professional, TPC Twin Cities

Jon Michalski, assistant golf professional, TPC Twin Cities

Golf is indeed a game that you can play for life, but how much has your game changed over time due to restricted motion and flexibility?

There are some important things, which most amateurs overlook, that can help you maintain and improve your golf game for years to come.

Do you have a pre-round warm-up routine? For quite a few golfers, a pre-round routine consists of grabbing a drink and a dog, rolling a few putts and then heading to the first tee. And even worse, their post-round routine consists of that same drink/snack combo (with perhaps the enhancement of a few ibuprofen).

Power and consistency in your golf swing come from having elongated flexible muscles. That 20-minute commute to the course gave your muscles the complete opposite effect of long and flexible. In fact, any exercise or movement you perform throughout your day causes your muscles to contract. Once they contract, they stay contracted until we move them in a way to stretch them out.

Immediate, forced movement of a contracted muscle can lead to straining or even tearing it. This is why stretching is so important and in my time as a teacher, one of the most overlooked parts of golf.

It may not be the most strenuous game, but you are creating a spring-like load on your back hip as you rotate for your back swing, and then you release all that stored force on your down swing and it all fires through the spine and opposite hip and knee.

Stand and repeat this motion 80 times and you will realize the amount of strain and tension placed on your muscles and joints when you go play 18 holes.

So, how do you address this yourself?

Before you head to the first tee and even before you hit balls on the practice tee, walk around. Get some blood and oxygen to places in your body in hibernation while you were stuck in the office all day.

Stretch your neck. This is the easiest area to leave off, but one of the places where it’s easiest to tweak something and be left with a twinge in your swing for the next two weeks.

After this, stretch your shoulders, back and legs. This will only take about five minutes, but it will benefit you over the next several hours.

Then when you are finished, cool down. Make circular motions with your arms and shoulders and stretch your neck and back again.

If you aren’t positive about what stretches you should be doing, go online and look them up. There is a mountain of great health and wellness information on the web.

I recommend adding some basic yoga or other core stability exercise into your weekly routine. I guarantee that making these changes in your golf game will make you feel better during your current round and more ready for your next round.

And with better feel, comes better play.

Jon Michalski is assistant golf 

professional at TPC Twin Cities

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