Pat Henry: Swing low and stay flexible
Published 24/05/2016 | 02:30
Summer time is a great time to golf and with the long evenings it can even be possible to get a few holes in after work. It is a sport where you can get a lot of exercise through walking, provided you don't walk too slowly between holes, which can be frustrating for the people coming along behind you!
Walking at a quick pace can keep you fit and keep other golfers happy at the same time. Any sport where you need to grip and swing a racket or club such as tennis or golf requires you to have strong and flexible shoulders, hips and arms and these muscles get a fair bit of repetition. If you don't do the correct exercises and keep your muscles strong, you can get tennis elbow or golfer's elbow.
The symptoms include pain in the inner side of the elbow, sometimes shooting into your forearms or hand.
Gripping something or even making a fist can cause discomfort. The tendon gets stressed and the real nagging pain can last for some time. As with any sport you need to train to get stronger and more flexible because when strength and flexibility come together, you relax more. Knowing you have power and good flexible movement means less tension as you move into position to swing your golf club.
If at any stage in the movement you feel tension, the likelihood of injury increases by 50pc. This is simply because the muscles can lock in place as you swing in the opposite direction.
Muscle strength is important but there is no point in having large muscle groups that are not able to move freely. We have a specific golf programme in the gym, which targets the areas that can enhance your golf swing and ultimately improve your overall game.
One of our clients who was on our golf programme has increased the length and accuracy of his drive by 25 yards within four weeks. This was due to improving his flexibility and working on the key muscles that are engaged in a really good golf swing. All professional golfers now work with trainers who devise a programme for muscle strength and flexibility, especially in the back shoulders and arms, not over developing these areas, but giving length and symmetry to all muscle groups. The power can come from the hips - so legs and hips need strength and flexibility too.
The opportunity to work with lots of great golfers over the years has shown me that the best golfers are very mentally free. They are able to let go of all thoughts before they hit the ball. When they're in that mental frame of mind they always score higher.
It's like a form of meditation where no distraction interferes with the play. It's quite obvious to see when they are mentally focused, they see nothing else but the target and even the crowd disappears.
If you find you have this soreness in your elbow I suggest you do one or all of the following:
See a good physio immediately
Ice it, then heat it, five to six times daily to improve circulation
Get an elbow strap
Do some rehab on your arm with conditioning exercises
Squeeze a tennis ball for seven seconds and then release, four-five times
Perfect your swing and avoid bad habits, which cause injury. Golfers should:
Work on your temperament
Set targets and goals
Pay attention and concentrate
Use imagery and visualisation
When putting, let go of tension
Be a team player
Be in the moment
The correct exercises and strong muscles will help golfers and tennis players avoid injury and may even help improve their game, writes Pat Henry
Health & Living