Golf is one of the most accessible sports to men and women of all ages because many people from 8 to 80 can play golf. Not only is it a great game for physical activity, but it serves as a central part of a good social life for many people who enjoy the game.

However, while enjoyable, golf can put a lot of strain on the back, hips and shoulders, and hence it can be frustrating not to be in the best shape to be able to play.

Whether you’re recovering from a golf injury or wanting to improve your swing and golf performance, physiotherapy can help.

There are many misconceptions about golf, that it’s a sport not requiring a great deal of fitness, or that it’s a game physically easier compared to other sports. But these claims are false given the strenuous and twisting motions it can place on the body.

Find out how our physiotherapists in Coffs Harbour at Coffs Physiotherapy and Backcare can help your golfing game and keep you moving to your best ability.

The right approach

Tightness and stiffness in joints and muscles can be normal in any sport, however they can also hamper your performance as can untreated past injuries.

An experienced physiotherapist can perform a thorough assessment, identify any imbalance or weaknesses then develop an individualised treatment program to deal with these and maximise your abilities.

The swing

A golf swing relies on a tremendous amount of flexibility and torsion, primarily through the core muscles but also in the hips and shoulders.

A weak core results in more strain passing through your spine, but also your hips and particularly the shoulders during your golf swing and a strong core is key to having an efficient, effective drive.

After targeting your core, developing power and control in your key girdle muscles stabilising your shoulder and hips will enhance not just your swing, but enjoyment in your game.

Aching hips, or stiff, painful shoulders? As experts in kinematics and musculoskeletal dynamics, our physiotherapists know how to safely and effectively target your particular needs.

Top things you can do to improve your golf performance:

1. Warm-up

Warming up before playing is often overlooked, and studies have shown up to 65 per cent of golfers never warm-up before their golf practice or game.

Warming up has many benefits, including improving muscle strength, flexibility and reducing the risk of injury.

2. Increase your flexibility

Golfers require a good range of flexibility for a long flowing swing. The main areas a golfer needs to be mobile are in their hips, shoulders and middle part of their back (thoracic spine).

The more rotation you can have in your back and hips, the better arc you’ll create in your swing. This means the ball has the potential to be hit further, and with improved flexibility, you may also adopt a much smoother swing style.

3. Build core and hip strength

Most people think the majority of the swinging happens in the arms, but the majority of the power is generated in the core, followed by the hips.

a) Core strength/motor control

As with most sports, strong core muscles are the key to improved performance and form an integral part of the training regime of any professional athlete. 

When most people think of ‘core stability’, they often think this relates to ‘ribbed abdominal muscles.’ A better term to use may be ‘core motor control,’ as good control or stability requires a refined interaction between your deep/local muscles [transversus abdominus; lumbar multifidus] that provide segmental stability, and superficial /global muscles [rectus abdominus, erector spinae], along with correct timing of the pelvic floor and diaphragm.

So yes, abdominal strength is important, but without the correct timing and interaction of these muscle groups, you may well be disappointed in your results.  Training these correctly requires a high degree of skill and expertise. In our clinic we also use Real Time Ultrasound Imaging, so you can see your efforts live on the screen, a great way for biofeedback.

-And don’t forget your posture – as physiotherapists we certainly don’t!

b) Hip strength

Golfers can benefit from hip strength in two ways; one in the generation of the power, and the other is dealing with a great deal of walking. Generally, a person will walk 5-6 km in a game of golf, so it’s essential to have good hip strength.

Physiotherapists can help in providing stability and strength to support this area. When the hips are rotating correctly, they can generate a much more powerful golf swing.

4. Improve your stamina

With the average length of a golf course just over 6 km, after carrying clubs over your shoulders or pulling/pushing a buggy for that distance, some golfers might feel exhausted approaching the 18th hole.

Golfers must have adequate baseline fitness to cover the distances required on the golf course to prevent fatigue from setting in and affecting their performance.

5. Choose your equipment wisely

Reduce strain by choosing the right equipment, and consider which way is the safest and best method for you to transport it around the course to avoid injury. Golf bags are very heavy, and even though they are made with good solids straps, a lot of weight can be put on one shoulder if carrying them.

Choose a bag which has comfortable and very supportive straps, or better still, consider investing in a golf buggy. Even when lifting your bag onto a golf cart, you need to be careful not to harm your back or shoulders.

At Health on High, our physiotherapists in Coffs Harbour are experts in human biomechanics. Whenever possible we aim for long term solutions, not temporary fixes, and we work alongside an exercise physiologist who has a special interest in strength training for golfers.

Contact us at Health on High, Coffs Harbour for all your golf-specific injuries and strength and conditioning, and start lowering your handicap straight away.