The Local Knowlege

Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: An easy pre-round warm-up

About a decade ago, my old friend Mark Verstegen at Exos (@teamexos) introduced me to a fitness term that has been a part of my workouts and pre-round warm-up ever since. He calls it "movement prep." What it means is that before you do anything strenuous such as swinging a golf club at 100 mph or doing olympic lifts, you need to warm your muscles up with a series of basic movements.

In the past, people might have prepared for an athletic activity by stretching. It's become widely accepted that long-hold stretches aren't the best way to prepare for strenuous movement. You want your muscles pliable, but taut enough to contract when needed. Long-hold stretches might actually hinder muscles from firing properly.

So whether you're working out or getting ready to play golf, consider doing a handful of basic exercises to warm your body up. To see me demonstrate three "movement prep" exercises I like to use before working out or playing golf, click on the video below.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

... Read
Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Think twice before you use ice

The acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) has been a prescription for treating soft-tissue injuries since the late 1970s. Golfers with sore knees, sprained ankles and elbow tendinitis know it well. But some health experts are starting to question whether the "I" should be included in the remedy. One of them is Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined the acronym in 1978's The Sports Medicine Book.


"Applying ice to injured tissue causes blood vessels near the injury to constrict and shut off the blood flow that brings in the healing cells of inflammation," Mirkin recently wrote in a research paper. Because blood vessels do not open for many hours after ice is applied, decreased blood flow can cause tissue damage or permanent impairment, he wrote. Inflammation, pain and swelling are part of the body's natural process to treat soft- tissue injuries and limit use of the injured area. If there's no swelling or pain, what's stopping you from doing further damage?

Instead of ice, many experts think the real accelerator in injury recovery is compression because it increases blood flow and healing agents to the area in need. That being said, there is still a place for ice in the treatment of minor bumps, bruises and soreness. Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear) says some people aren't willing to wait for "nature to take its course" and are looking for something to keep pain and swelling to a minimum so they can continue playing golf. They can always take a longer block of time to heal properly in the offseason, Shear says. Even Mirkin says ice is OK if used sparingly for short periods right after the injury occurs. "You could apply the ice for up to 10 minutes, remove it for 20 minutes, and repeat the 10-minute application once or twice," he wrote.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: When you gotta play hurt

By Ron Kaspriske

Whether it's back spasms, a throbbing knee or a wicked hangover, trying to tee it up in pain can be daunting. But what else are you going to do in Myrtle Beach, go to the outlet mall? With that in mind, we asked a few of our favorite golfing docs to offer quick remedies for the most common golf injuries when you’re going to tee it up no matter what.

the-loop-fitness-playing-hurt.jpgBACK AND NECK PAIN
1. Take a long, hot shower.
2. Stretch by making a series of seated torso or neck rotations in each direction slowly trying to increase range of motion.
3. Take anti-inflammatory meds.
4. Wear a back wrap.
5. Walk the course (riding makes it worse).
6. Use a push (not pull) cart.
7. Shorten up your swing.

Note: If the pain radiates into the arms and legs, you could have nerve compression and should see a doctor. Do not play!

1. Rest with the arm bent and slightly elevated.
2. Warm up the shoulder and wrist with arm-and-hand rotations.
3. Take anti-inflammatory meds.
4. Wear an elbow compression wrap.
5. Make a shallower, sweeping swing (thin divots).
6. Ice for 10 minutes at the turn and 10 minutes after the round.

1. Ice for 10 minutes and keep it elevated while resting.
2. Warm up the back, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and ankles. Lunges with torso rotations to each side will help.
3. Take anti-inflammatory meds.
4. Wear a compressive knee brace.
5. Use a golf cart.

Note: If the knee feels locked or unstable, do not play.

Related: How to protect your knees

1. Roll the foot back and forth over a frozen water bottle before you play.
2. Stretch hamstrings and Achilles tendon. Lunges and hip-hinge exercises help.
3. Take anti-inflammatory meds.
4. Wear a 3/8-inch heel pad or metatarsal pad (front of the foot) depending on pain location.
5. Take a cart instead of walking.

Related: Healing your heels

1. Take an inhaled nasal steroid (prescription) or over-the-counter antihistamine before the round.
2. Use eye drops during the round.
3. Wear sunglasses to block pollen.

1. Apply aloe skin cream.
2. Take acetaminophen.
3. Wear a “physical-blocker” sunscreen (contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide).
4. Wear clothing with UPF protection.

Note: If the skin is blistery and you are running a fever, you probably have sun poisoning. Do not play.

1. Drain with a sterile needle.
2. Leave blistered skin on.
3. Apply antiseptic cream.
4. Cover with a bandage.
5. Tape over the bandage.

1. Drink a lot of water.
2. Eat a big, bland breakfast.
3. Take acetaminophen.
4. Avoid talkative playing partner.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

Illustration by Spur Design ... Read
Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Work the hips and glutes (for a change)

By Ron Kaspriske

The muscles around your hip joints and pelvic girdle are the unsung heroes of your golf game. They provide power, stability and protection when you play. But often they are neglected when you work out. If you're guilty of this neglect, remember that you need to switch on these muscles in order to play well—particularly the gluteus maximus and medius, the hip adductor and abductor muscles and the illiotibial “IT” band. These muscles help improve stability, posture, and turn your lower body into a powerful energy generator when you swing. And as a bonus, they help protect the knees from strains and tears typically caused by poor mechanics and overuse. 

Two exercises that can help are mini-band walks, says Mark Verstegen, founder of the athletic-performance company Exos (@teamexos). Exos was formerly known as Athletes' Performance. Verstegen (@markverstegen) was one of the first fitness experts to understand that golfers need some very specific exercises in order to activate the key muscles used in the golf swing—particularly in the glute/hip region. To do these exercises, you’ll need two mini-bands, but they're easy to find in any sporting goods store and usually cost less than $10. Even better, you can store them in your golf bag.

02inslcoreworkoutnew.gifHere are the two exercises you should be doing right now:

1. Mini-band walk forward (two sets, 10-20 steps)

WHY IT WORKS: The resistance of the stretch bands against your legs activates and strengthens the glutes, which are key to maintaining a stable base when you swing, especially at faster speeds.

HOW TO DO IT:  Place a mini-band around your legs above the knees and another around your ankles. Walk forward in small steps, keeping your knees bent and alternating the elbows driving back with each step. Keep your back straight and your knees over your toes at all times.

09inslcoreworkout.gif2. Mini-bank walk sideways (one set, 10-20 steps, each direction)

WHY IT WORKS: The resistance of the stretch bands really strengthens the muscles of the pelvis and upper thigh including the IT band and the adductor and abductor muscles. Training these muscles will improve lower-body rotation and add power to your swings.

HOW TO DO IT: Place a mini-band around your legs above the knee and another around your ankles. Walk sideways in small steps, keeping your legs fairly straight and alternating the elbows driving back with each step. Keep your back straight and your knees over your toes at all times.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photos by J.D. Cuban) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Training with a medicine ball

By Ron Kaspriske

There’s a widely believed theory—known as the principle of least effort—and it might explain why so many people struggle to make good golf swings. The theory suggests, in part, that people instinctively choose the path of least effort when performing any activity. You don’t zigzag from your car to the front door. You walk on the shortest path possible. And when you swing a one-pound golf club, your instinct is to use only your arms because that’s all the effort you need.

Unfortunately, to swing a club properly, you need to move more than just your arms. The bigger muscles of your body have to be involved, too, so Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear)) recommends tossing a medicine ball against a wall as part of your workout. Because med balls are considerably heavier than your clubs, you need more muscle power to throw one than your arms can provide—especially if you’re trying to simulate the high-speed rotary action of the body that occurs during a golf swing.

“Your brain recognizes the increase in weight of the med ball, and it instinctively changes your neuromuscular recruitment pattern to let you throw it,” Shear says.


Training with a med ball will especially improve your downswing, he says. That’s when the leg, hip, and core muscles are already firing before the arms start to pull the club toward the ball. A similar series of coordinated muscle activity happens when throwing a med ball. When you’re ready to give it a try, follow Shear’s here: 

If you sway or slide laterally during your golf swing, face a wall, grab a medicine ball with both hands, hold it by your hip and throw it against the wall in a golf-swing motion. “It’ll help you rotate athletically during the swing without losing your balance,” says trainer Ben Shear. If you tend to swing off your back foot, stand perpendicular to the wall when you throw the ball. “This will train you to shift your weight from your back foot onto your front foot at the top of the swing,” Shear says.

Working in slow motion won’t train you for the quick muscle activity required in the downswing. “The faster you can throw it, the more you’ll feel how the body should move,” Shear says.

Toss the ball right-handed and left-handed to correct muscular asymmetry. “It’s a big issue for golfers,” Shear says. 

The weight of the ball should be enough that you need more than just arm strength to throw it, Shear says. For a man of average strength, start with an eight-pound ball.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photo by Dom Furore) ... Read
Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Sleep better, play better

By Ron Kaspriske

maar04-ron-kaspriske-sleep.jpgDo you know if working out right before bedtime is a good idea? Or how long a nap should be? If you snore, does that mean you have a chronic sleep disorder? And do you know why you sometimes wake up groggy even after getting eight hours of rest? Because most of us do it every day of our lives, sleep health is often ignored or taken for granted. But golfers might want to rethink the importance of quality sleep. A recent study indicated better sack time can lower your handicap significantly. Imagine going from a 14 to single digits just by getting better sleep. For the May issue of @golfdigestmag, I wrote an FAQ on everything golfers need to know about sleep. If you want the answer to any of the above questions and more information on how sleep improves your golf scores, click on this link:
Will more sack time lower your handicap?

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Illustration by Peter Arkle) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: A fix for those fat and thin shots

Note how Gary Woodland's right shoulder moves down toward the ball.

By Ron Kaspriske

A simple way to explain how the upper body should rotate during the swing is to imagine you've got your head inside a life-preserver ring that is resting on your shoulders as you set up to the golf ball. When you turn back and through during the swing, the life preserver would be tilted, with the part of the circle closest to the ball lower than the part of the preserver that's behind your head. The amount of that tilt varies depending on the length of the club you're using.

If you're hitting the ground behind the ball (a fat shot) or making contact with it on the bottom portion of the clubhead (a thin shot), there's a good chance you're not maintaining the tilt of that life preserver, says golf instructor Jeff Ritter (@mttgolf), who runs the Make the Turn Performance center at Poppy Hills Golf Club in Pebble Beach. On the practice range, Ritter suggests two drills. The first is to move your left shoulder down toward the ball during the backswing. Then, once you become comfortable with that, work on the second half of the swing by moving the right shoulder toward the ball during the downswing. The lower body should rotate toward the target ahead of this shoulder move. You'll eventually want to blend these two drills into one fluid motion. And pay attention to your weight and body orientation, he says. You don't want your weight moving too far into your toes or heels.

Related: Watch Make The Turn video series with Jeff Ritter

If you're struggling with these moves, the problem might be weak oblique muscles. The obliques are part of the core-muscle family and reside of the sides of your torso. They are key to thoracic (mid spine) rotation and, if they are weak, you'll struggle to turn back and through with the proper tilt of your upper body.

To train them, first work on improving their stability. Side planks are great.

Hold this position for as long as you can. Just make sure your arm stays stacked under your shoulder joint when you do them and don't let your body sag at the hips. Remember to do both sides. If you're able to hold the plank easily for over a minute, you're ready for a more advanced exercise that helps train the correct upper body tilt and rotation while improving lower-body stability. This one comes from PGA Tour trainer Joey Diosalvi (@coachjoeyd).


Rotate your upper body in both directions while maintaining your balance. Strive to do two sets of five turns in each direction and then switch leg positions to improve muscular symmetry.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

Gary Woodland: Photo by Stephen Szurlej

... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Build a better launching pad

By Ron Kaspriske

Most golfers think that the lower body needs to be really active during the downswing. But at some point, the lower body must stabilize to let the shoulders, arms, hands and clubhead fire through the impact zone. If your legs didn't do this, you would lose control and have a difficult time consistently hitting the ball on the sweet spot.

Even Happy Gilmore had to plant his front foot before launching a drive, like 400 yards. And you should, too.

"You need a solid platform if your goal is to hit the ball solidly," says Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear), who trains PGA Tour pros Luke Donald, Jason Day and Webb Simpson.

"The initiation of the lower-body rotation should feel like it's almost starting immediately after the initial takeaway of the arms and club," Shear says. "This allows the lower body to stabilize early, so that later the upper body can come whipping around without you falling over."

Like Happy's girlfriend.

fitness-friday-0321-power-moves.jpgMASTER THIS POWER MOVE WITH ONE EXERCISE

Start slow until the movement becomes natural, and then increase speed so it feels powerful. The goal is to get your weight on your left side before you yank the band across your body. Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear says to also do this exercise in the opposite direction to maintain muscular balance.

1. Using a stretch band, simulate your address posture with a fairly narrow stance (less than shoulder-width).

2. Take a big sidestep with your left foot toward an imaginary target, letting the band stretch in that direction.

Now aggressively pull the band across your torso while rotating your body toward the target. It's as if you were swinging a club through impact.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

Photos by Dom Furore
... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Stop drinking the orange water (purple, too)


Ron Kaspriske

According to recent earning statements, net sales continue to drop in the U.S. for soda. That's great news. People are really starting to understand the role sugary beverages have in this country's growing obesity problem. Dr. Pepper is down. So is Coca-Cola.

But while parents, doctors and anyone who wants to live a healthy life can enjoy a small victory in hearing that soda is losing popularity, another unhealthy beverage continues to see growth in sales--sports drinks.

The name of this category of beverages has always irked me, because the word "sports" makes people believe that drinking them is a part of being fit. They are almost always among the selections you can choose on a beverage cart at the golf course. In truth, these beverages are almost as sneaky bad as fruit juices (which are awful because of high sugar content, the way they're made, and unnatural additives). Instead of calling them sports drinks, I prefer "colored sugar water."
Sports drinks most likely contain sugar, genetically modified organisms, chemicals, unnatural additives, lots of salt... I can go on and on. Ever notice how the color of the original sports drink looks like antifreeze? OK, that's a bit extreme, but you do realize all those bright colors that sports drinks come in are designed to attract children.
I've written about this topic in the past, but it's worth repeating. When it comes to hydration, nothing beats water. When it comes proper organ function, nothing beats water. When it comes to curbing appetite, mental acuity, muscle function, nothing beats water. How much water? Your goal should be to take your body weight, divide by two, and drink that many fluid ounces of water a day. And I'm talking about water. Not coffee. Not iced tea. Water. You can drink sparkling water if you like the fizz.
Now back to sports drinks. The reason why I'm on my soapbox about these beverages is because of a recent article written by Dr. Lisa Sulsenti (@nakedmoxie). I've only recently become familiar with Dr. Sulsenti's work in nutrition, but I believe she did a thorough and fair job of explaining many of the harmful reasons why sports drinks should be avoided. She speaks specifically about their effects on children, but I always have believed that if something is bad for kids, it's bad for adults, too.

If you have a few minutes, take a look at this article. See if it doesn't sway your opinion on that colored sugar water.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photo by Getty Images) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Does your golf glove look like this?


fitness-friday-correct-grip.jpgBy Ron Kaspriske

If you keep wearing out the leather in the heel pad of your golf glove, you're a prime candidate for wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries, says physical therapist Ralph Simpson, a Golf Digest fitness advisor. "What happens is that the golfer holds the club deep in the palm of the hand, and it rubs against the heel pad, eventually causing it to tear," Simpson says. Holding the club deep in the palm instead of in the fingers (top photo, right) restricts the wrists' ability to hinge and unhinge during the swing.

The hands and arms are put under more stress, which can lead to issues like tendon and ligament tears or inflammation. Less common, but still a possibility, are ailments such as fractures of the wrist bones. "Check your grip often," Simpson says. "It's really easy to let it slip down into the palm."

Stronger forearm muscles (flexors and brachioradialis), upper arm muscles (biceps) and shoulder muscles (deltoids) also will help protect your hands and arms from injuries when you swing a club. To see an exercise that hits all three of these groups, click on the video below.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

Glove: J.D. Cuban/Illustrations: Brown Bird Design ... Read
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today