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Health & Fitness

Ten things we learned on Day 3 of the World Golf Fitness Summit

By Ron Kaspriske

Every other year, many of the game's top teachers and fitness experts unite to discuss various topics at the World Golf Fitness Summit. The current event began in Orlando on Thursday. Here are some of the highlights from Saturday's session.

10. Endoscopic spinal surgery gives golfers with a number of back issues a way to ease their pain without traditional surgery. In most instances, there is no overnight stay in a hospital and officials at the Laser Spine Institute report that patients can return to golf in less than three months. The procedure involves reaching the spine through a small tube and then using a laser to correct the issue. Among the typical problems this procedure can correct are bulging discs of the spine, pinched nerves, bone spurs, spinal stenosis, etc. Many major insurance carriers cover the procedures.

phil_mickelson_2006.jpg9. Phil Mickelson's 2006 loss at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot (right) wasn't because he choked on the 18th hole by hitting an awful drive, says sports psychologist Dr. Rick Jensen. It was because his driving accuracy was his weakest link. He was ranked 160th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy at the time. "You have to recognize your weakest link, whether it's the golf course or the gym," Jensen said. Once you recognize it, you have to work on mastering that skill. Until that happens, you can't rely on that skill. Too many people count on skills they haven't mastered and then think they choked when that skill fails them, he said.

8. More and more, PGA Tour players warm-up for a round by working out in the gym, says Golf Digest fitness advisor Randy Myers. Tour pro Brian Harman does a full 30-minute workout even on tournament days.

7. The word "routine" should be used loosely when talking about your workouts, Myers said. Varying your fitness regimen is key. Many tour pros, for example, focus on mobility and aerobic training during tournament weeks and then focus on strength training at home. So instead of jogging every day, or working out on the same cardio machine, implement other activities to your weekly exercise regimen including playing sports. Walking 18 holes while carrying your golf bag is a suitable exercise some days

Related: Fitness Friday: Leave the cart in the barn

6. Do exercises slower, with less repetition, and focus on the quality of the movement, says Andrew Fischer, trainer for Bubba Watson. Doing reps fast, Fischer explains, recruits momentum into an exercise and momentum is a poor substitute for real strength.

5. Speaking about Bubba Watson, Fischer says his active feet are a product of relieving stress on the lead (right) knee as he swings through impact. Watson often looks like he's falling off balance, but the rotation of his right foot toward the target helps reduce the chance of ligament strains and tears in the right knee that might be caused by Watson's awesome swing speed.

4. Tyler Parsons, a trainer who works with long-ball hitters J.B. Holmes and Kenny Perry at Matt Killen's Golf Academy in Kentucky, has been conducting an experiment with his own driving distance. Parsons has gone from a clubhead speed of 120 mph to as high as 152 mph and credits some of the gains to wearing weighted wraps around his forearms. The wraps, which weigh only two ounces, are preferred over training with a heavier-than-normal driver because he finds they do not impede fast-twitch muscle function or ruin the kinematic sequence of the swing. The wraps are still in the experimental phase, but initial findings have been favorable, he says.

chuck_cook.jpg

3. Phil Mickelson's trainer Sean Cochran stressed the importance of graduating exercises once the body adapts to them. In simplest terms, if it becomes easy to lift a weight or perform a movement, there are many things you can do to make the exercise harder. Progression is crucial to training, otherwise improvements will stall.

2. Golf Digest Teaching Professional Chuck Cook (right) spoke about the importance of generating power from the ground--literally using it as leverage as a golfer starts the downswing. He said trainers need to teach clients exercises that generate force by pushing off the ground.

1. Redcord suspension training is gaining momentum as a useful fitness tool for golfers. Its real benefit is activating and strengthening stabilization muscles required to control the body movements and club during the golf swing. For example, the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder allow for greater range of motion in the joint, which would help a golfer swing on plane. Golf Digest mentioned Redcord in its September issue on building your own golf gym.

Ron Kaspriske is Golf Digest's Fitness Editor

(Mickelson: Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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