The game of golf may have originated in Scotland. Avid players of the sport were already practicing their swings in the 15th century and likely, much earlier. One folkloric suggestion is that the idea started when Scottish shepherds tending sheep used their crooked herding sticks to tap rounded stones into rabbit holes. It may simply have been a way to pass the time.
If you're looking to improve your golf game or just seeking to prevent golf injuries it is important to follow the information in this article. In addition, adding a few simple stretches to your fitness program will also help. To get started on a safe and effective stretching routine that's just right for you, check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility.
By 1603, an enterprising Scottish Baron, James VI (soon to assume the English throne) brought the game with him. It was taken up in Britain with considerable enthusiasm, though it was played on rough terrain, without modern greens. The first golfing club was formed in 1744 and became known as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. It was at this time that the first rules of the game were formalized and an annual competition opened to all golfers in Great Britain and Ireland.
It wasn't until the late 1800s however that golfing became a popular sport in the U.S. with elaborate courses like Shinnecock Hills on Long Island drawing serious golfers from around the country. By the turn of the century, over 1000 golf clubs had been formed in North America. Techniques of golf club making and golf ball manufacture have continuously evolved along with other fine points of the game.
The golf swing has four components: the back swing, downswing, ball strike and follow-through. The back swing stretches the muscles in preparation for the powerful forward release, and is similar to the wind-up in baseball. The forward swing segment of the drive releases the full power of the swing and determines the distance the ball is hit. The follow-through completes the proper swing. The forward portion of the swing incorporates 22 separate muscles. Conditioning of these muscles permits better control and allows the player to increase the speed of the golf head.
Muscle groups involved in the golf swing include:
Most Common Golf Injuries
The golf swing requires a combination of shoulder movement through a wide range of motion at high speed, and strong rotation of the trunk. Both movements produce risk of injury, as do other aspects of the game. A variety of golfing injuries fall into two broad categories, cumulative (usually the result of overuse) and acute or traumatic injuries.
Back injuries are common in golf and generally involve muscle or ligament strains. Such injuries tend to be self-healing within a few weeks, provided proper rest and treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and common analgesics are provided.
Back injuries include:
Shoulder injuries include:
Elbow injuries include:
Wrist and hand injuries include:
Injuries to the knee include:
Injury Prevention Strategies
Many injuries occur early in the season before proper conditioning has taken place. Such injuries may affect soft tissues including tendons, muscles and ligaments, as well as the joints of the upper body, (including back, elbow, wrist and shoulder).
Attention to technique is critical to avoid injury, which can result from over-swinging, twisting the spine, an incorrect grip or hitting the ground during the forward swing.
To avoid back injury:
To avoid shoulder and elbow injury:
To avoid hand, wrist and elbow injuries:
Physical conditioning of appropriate muscles along with careful attention to correct technique tends to limit golfing injury. Hitting practice balls with shorter irons is a good means of loosening the muscles and avoiding strains. Additionally, proper rest, a consistent warm-up routine and core-strengthening exercises should be part of an overall approach to injury-free enjoyment of the game.
The Top 3 Golf Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective. Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for golf; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions beside each stretch.
|Reaching Lateral Side Stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, then slowly bend to the side and reach over the top of your head with your hand. Do not bend forward.|
|Reaching-down Triceps Stretch: Reach behind your head with both hands and your elbow pointing up. Then reach down your back with your hands.|
|Bent Arm Shoulder Stretch: Stand upright and place one arm across your body. Bend your arm at 90 degrees and pull your elbow towards your body.|
While the recommendations on this page are a good starting point, you'll get a lot more benefit when you include a wider variety of exercises. So to improve your athletic ability, reduce injuries and really take advantage of all the stretching exercises on offer, grab a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility (Handbook, DVD & CD-ROM).
In total, they include 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretching exercises for every major muscle group in your body. Plus, over 80 printable stretching routines for 22 sports and 19 different muscle groups.
The DVD also includes 3 customized stretching routines (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core, plus a bonus CD-ROM that allows you to print out over 80 stretching routines that you can take with you where ever you go.
The Handbook and DVD will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility for yourself.