Tips for a stronger body and a better golf game

Spring is here, and many people are embracing golf as a way to get outside and be active in a safe and distanced way. Whether you’re new to the links, or a seasoned pro, our musculoskeletal experts have some tips to strengthen your body that can reduce your chance for injury and improve your game at the same time.

A woman seen from behind at the end of her golf swing, with her club over her left shoulder.

Strengthen your core

The experts at Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists, a Physiquality member in Miami, remind golfers that a strong core is a key component of a good golf swing. The muscles in your torso, including those in your abdominals and around your spine, stabilize your back and allow for rotation during your swing. Strengthening your core can reduce your chance for back injury while giving you power (and distance) in your swing.

One way to strengthen your core is by doing bridges, which will work your core and glutes. If you want more of a challenge, do them in a single leg version, as shown below.

A person demonstrating single leg bridges, with the left foot on the ground and the right extended into the air. Others doing the same exercise are in the background.

Work on your mobility and flexibility

Think of mobility as how much your joints can bend or move, and flexibility as how much your muscles allow for movement. Both are important when it comes to your golf swing, notes Layne Cooper, a physical therapist at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, a Physiquality member in Arizona. Layne explains that limited mobility in your neck, back and shoulders can limit your swing, as can limited flexibility in the muscles around your hips and shoulders.

One stretch that can improve mobility in the back is called the open book stretch. Lie down on the floor on one side and bring your knees up as if you were sitting in the chair. Bring both arms parallel to your thighs, then open the top arm to make a “T” with both arms – for example, if your legs are pointing to the left, your left arm stays on the floor and your right arm stretches away from your legs, allowing the right shoulder to touch the floor if possible. Hold the stretch as you breathe and relax. You should feel a stretch all the way down your spine.

Improve your balance

Having good balance when preparing for and executing your swing is important for accuracy. As the therapists at Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists explain, if you’re leaning too far to the left or right, or hunching over your ball, your ball may not head in the direction you’re aiming for and may wind up off course. Layne adds that improper balance through your swing follow-through can also affect your game.

There are several variations of the exercise known as the Stork that can work on your balance skills. In the simplest form, simply stand on one foot. To increase difficulty, close your eyes or stand on an uneven surface, like a foam roll, Bosu ball, or even a pillow. Another version works on both mobility and balance – you’re still standing on one leg, locking the foot (the one off the floor) around the back of the knee and moving the leg open and closed, which moves the femur around in the hip joint. This can be done with your hands on a chair at first, working up to doing the exercise without touching anything else.

Black and white image of a man holding his back; his lower back is highlighted in red, to imply pain.

Be sure to check with your physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine. If you have pain during or after a round of golf, consider talking to your PT about ways to improve your strength, balance and mobility. A physical therapist can do a full musculoskeletal evaluation and create an exercise regimen to improve both your game and your health.

Looking for a physical therapist to help you improve your golf game? Use our locator below to find a Physiquality PT near you.

Thank you to our contributors:

Physiquality member Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy has several clinic locations in Arizona. Providers of physical therapy for more than 20 years, their PTs and PTAs deliver hands-on physical therapy with integrity and accountability, ensuring the best possible patient results.

Physiquality member Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists (ORS) has been serving the South Florida community for over 30 years and is an independent PT-owned private practice in Miami, FL. They are committed to providing exceptional care in a compassionate and friendly atmosphere.

Core-strength exercises. Mayo Clinic, August 11, 2020.

Berg, Chris. Stork. YouTube, April 27, 2020.

Bloom, Jason. 3 tips to improve your golf swing. Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists, July 13, 2018.

Nazario, Naomi. Open book stretch.. Men’s Health, August 18, 2017.

Cooper, Layne. How physical therapy can improve your golf swing. Foothills Sports Medicine Rehabilitation Therapy, April 21, 2017.

Improving your balance. Physiquality, December 22, 2014.

“140711_ds_mftc3” by Joint Base Lewis McChord is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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