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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!

ELBOW TENDINITIS
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.

SORE KNEE
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

FOOT PAIN
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

ALLERGIES
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.

SEVERE SUNBURN
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.

BLISTER
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.

HANGOVER
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.

fitness-friday-medball-518.jpg

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: 

TRAIN TO CORRECT FAULTS
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.

SPEED IS KING
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.

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

USE A HEAVY BALL
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

fitness-friday-gary-woodland-swing.jpg
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.
fitness-exercises-side-plank.jpg

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).

fitness-exercises-rotations.jpg

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


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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.


3.
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
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Health & Fitness

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

fitness-friday-sports-drinks.jpg

By
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-golf-glove.jpg

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
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Your clubhead speed (fantasy vs. reality)

By Ron Kaspriske

A time-honored tradition in golf is to make driving-distance claims well beyond your capability. Sure, there was that time last June that you hit a sprinkler head on a downwind, downhill hole and your ball ended up inside the 100-yard marker on that 350-yard par 4. But let's be honest, most golfers aren't carrying the ball 250 yards off the tee. Most aren't carrying it 200. And it has little to do with your current fitness level, says Justin Padjen of TrackMan Golf (@trackmangolf).

Rather than look at a person's physique, athleticism or strength, a more accurate determiner of how far you hit the ball is your Handicap Index, he says. And he's got proof. Padjen's company has the data on driver swings of more than 15,000 golfers of all skill levels (including close to 300 PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players). What they found is a direct correlation between swing speed and handicap (see the chart below). The average Handicap Index for a man is currently 14.6, according to the Golf Handicap and Information Network (ghin.com). Padjen says data strongly suggests those golfers typically swing the driver at 93.4 mph, carry the ball 192 yards, and drive it 214 yards including roll. Sobering news, right?

fitness-friday-clubhead-speed-chart.jpg

If you're not familiar with TrackMan, the company developed a type of radar system that can tell you exactly how fast you're swinging and how far you're hitting the ball. It does a lot more than that, but for the purposes of this article, swing speed and distance were of primary interest.
 
"The data shows that there are very strong correlations between club speed and skill level," Padjen says.
 
And when you think about it, that makes sense. The better you get at golf, the better you understand what it takes to deliver the clubhead into the ball at higher speeds. So when it comes to training in the gym to hit the ball farther, learning how to swing the club faster only matters if you have a good understanding of how to make a consistently effective swing at that speed.
 
Most amateurs would be better served in the gym learning how to improve muscular coordination versus trying to train to swing faster. This past summer, I talked to one of the best drivers on the PGA Tour--Hunter Mahan--about what holds amateurs back. He has played with his fair share of regular golfers in pro-ams all over the world. Mahan, who is among the best on tour in combining distance and accuracy off the tee (a stat known as total driving), says he sees uncoordinated swings that make it difficult to hit the ball in the center of the clubface.

"Solid contact beats a fast swing almost every time," he says. "The closer amateurs can get to hitting it in the sweet spot, the more distance they will get."

So how do you improve muscular coordination to learn how to hit the ball farther. There are a lot of ways, but one simple exercise is to simulate a golf swing while throwing a medicine ball. Here you will see PGA Tour fitness trainer Jeff Fronk (@fitnessbyfronk) and tour pro Bud Cauley (@budcauley) demonstrate it (click on the video below).




Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.



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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Adjusting your ticker

fitness-friday-heart-rate.jpeg

By
Ron Kaspriske

To maintain good heart health, the American Academy of Sports Medicine recommends exercising three times a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes, at a heart rate 60 percent of your maximum.

The good news for golfers is that walking when you play would meet this requirement. Back in 2006, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center put golf to the test and found that walking (either carrying or with a caddie) elevated participants' heart rates above that 60-percent threshold. For most men, the range is 100-120 beats per minute.

Related article: What's Your Golf Mileage?

There is more than one formula for determining maximum heart rate. The one Golf Digest Fitness Advisor Ben Shear (@Ben_Shear) recommends is the Karvonen Method. Fitness consultant Brian Calkins has the Karvonen calculator on his website here: http://www.briancalkins.com/HeartRate.htm

But before you get too fixated on working out in a specific heart-rate zone, my advice is don't worry about it. While it's good to routinely check your resting heart rate (a good target zone is 50-80 beats per minute), trying to exercise in a specific heart-rate "zone," might limit your capabilities.

If you have been cleared by your physician for intense activity, it's OK to push yourself well beyond the 60-percent threshold. My general experience has been that middle-aged men and women should work in a range of 130-160 beats per minute. Don't worry, your body will tell you when you're overdoing it. The minute your form starts to deteriorate, and you can't do the exercise competently, it's time for a break.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


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