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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Ham it up

Editor's note: Every week my colleague Ron Kaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. This week he works on strengthening and stretching your hamstrings, which are essential to hitting the ball farther and more solidly and preventing back problems. Look for Saturday Morning Tip tomorrow (hint: playing in extreme heat), and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest

Here's Ron: The hamstrings (the large muscle group on the back side of your thighs) play a huge role not only in increasing your clubhead speed--a key to power--but also in maintaining your posture--a key to hitting it solid. Those two reasons alone should be enough for any golfer to want to incorporate hamstring strength and flexibility exercises into a workout routine. But strong, pliable hammies also play a huge role in reducing lower-back pain. At this point, you should be sold.

Athletes in most power sports--especially track and field, football and soccer--have known for years that healthy hamstrings are a key to longevity. Golfers are finally catching on to this notion, in part, thanks to improvements in equipment. To really capitalize on the technology put into golf clubs and balls, being able to make a strong, efficient swing is key. And that's very difficult to accomplish without the hamstrings doing what they're supposed to do, which is help supply the lower body with power, protect the knee joints and lower back from unnecessary twisting, and also support the trunk when you swing through the ball.

OK, enough preaching on why you should incorporate hamstring exercises into your workout. Now comes the "how to." Mark Verstegen, owner of Athletes Performance in Scottsdale and
one of the top fitness trainers in the world, suggests working on flexibility, but also stability, as those two things often go hand and hand. In other words, if the region around your hamstrings isn't particularly stable, you could have the flexibility of a rubber band and it wouldn't matter. The body wouldn't allow you to tap into that range of motion. So you need to strengthen and lengthen the hamstring region at the same time. To see me demonstrate Mark's recommended exercises for golfers, click on the video below.



Ron Kaspriske
Fitness Editor
Golf Digest

Follow Ron on Twitter @RonKaspriske
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