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The Back Nine

Fitness for senior golfers

By Michele McCord, CPT, CMT, RYS-RYT

The importance of fitness training has become wildly accepted in the modern-day sport of golf. In past generations, there was a bit of stigma in the game with lighthearted teasing for “spending too much time in the gym and not enough time playing golf.” 

All golfers benefit from cross-training, especially seniors who need to maintain strength and flexibility to avoid injury and continue the game they love. If you’ve made it to the time in your life where playing golf is a priority, you’ve probably brought a few aches and pains with you. That’s why it’s important that your routine be prescribed with your limitations and goals in mind, preferably by a professional trainer or physical therapist. To prevent injury, it is important to practice a routine that is safe, effective and tailored to you and your game. 

If we unpack the biomechanics of the golfer’s swing, we discover rotation, flexion and extension. To create more ball speed, we restrict the pelvic turn while increasing thorax rotation in the backswing. However, as we age, we lose range of motion in the thoracic spine, restricting rotation. Targeted exercises can help us regain our full range potential. 

If you’ve had knee pain from an injury or degenerative joint disease, it might be best to avoid deep lunges or squats; flexibility should be the focus of your workouts. Biomechanics specialist Greg Rose says that every decade of your life represents the percentage of your fitness program you should dedicate to flexibility. So, if you’re 70 years old, 70 percent of your workout should be dedicated to flexibility. This percentage may sound daunting, but you can achieve it with any dynamic moving stretches that improve mobility, flexibility and strength all at the same time. That is why yoga is one of the most effective exercise disciplines for golfers, as it incorporates all three.

Meditation is another powerful benefit of yoga for golfers. Illustrious golfer Sam Snead’s words of wisdom include, “Of all the hazards, fear is the worst.” Practicing meditation can improve your game by making it easier to quiet emotions and calm the mind so you can relax and take it easy, improving concentration and boosting confidence. Some athletes have seen their game improve with just 10 minutes of meditation a day! 

“I just don’t have time” is the number one excuse I hear for not staying fit. The truth is most of us can find 15 minutes a day for some kind of routine. My philosophy is, “you can exercise everywhere, and the best exercise is the one you do.” My client Robert Mack, MD, generously offered to share one of his “exercise everywhere” routines… 

“Waiting for coffee to brew, stand facing the coffee machine, feet positioned
4 — 5 feet away. Do vertical push-ups. Start with hands on the counter edge and arms fully extended, ease forward touching chest to the counter edge. Keep your body straight. Try to keep heels on the floor to accentuate the heel cord stretch.” 

Making time to incorporate a tailored fitness routine will help keep you playing golf longer, healthier, happier and better.

Michele is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor, nutritional consultant and founder of the Michele McCord Method. She can be reached at (310) 923-3237 or me@michelemccordmethod.com. For more information visit
www.michelemccordmethod.com.

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