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Health & Fitness

Turning fitness into a game

I was encouraged over this past weekend to see so many kids out on my local golf course. But what left a sour note was how many of them were riding in a golf cart. You can blame McDonald's, video games, poverty or poor parenting, but the undeniable fact is that children in the U.S. have gotten fatter and are less active. I realize that sounds like a sweeping generalization—and a harsh statement—but here is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say about it:

the-loop-fitness-kid-game-300.jpgIn 2012, 18 percent of kids six to 11 and 21 percent of kids 12 to 19 were obese. That's one out of every five kids you run into. Alarming doesn't quite describe the situation.

So what can be done about it? For starters, kids need to move more. If your child needs some motivation in this department, you might want to look into getting a new fitness board game called Flip2BFit. The concept is unique, simple and genius. While kids are playing this board game, they're asked to do simple exercises like crab crawls and squat thrusts in order to win. They're also given important information on nutrition. The game is the brainchild of Heather Parisi and has been endorsed by a number of parenting organizations. Cost is $35 and can be purchased at flip2bfit.com.


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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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.

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"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.

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Health & Fitness

How to carry your carry bag

Walking and carrying your bag is a solid workout, but sometimes walkers complain of back pain. If you're feeling some pain, don't give up on walking and carrying: The way you're carrying your bag could be contributing to the problem. I talked to Seth Enes, the chief designer at bag manufacturer Sun Mountain, to see how carry bags should be carried. Here are five tips he passed along that are a must for anyone carrying their own bag:

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1. Adjust the straps on the bag so you feel that "the weight is evenly distributed on each shoulder."

2. The bag should be leaning at a 20-to-25-degree angle across your back.

3. Feel the bag resting against the small of your back—no higher or lower.

4. Always walk tall.

5. Avoid carrying with only one strap because this can lead to muscular-imbalance injuries.

Related: View Hot List Golf Bags

(Illustration: Brown Bird Design)

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Health & Fitness

Make The Turn Challenge #22: Maximum Muscle Recovery

When it comes to fitness training, it's often the little things that can make the biggest difference. This is especially true as it relates to how you "feel." Although it's easy to assume if someone looks great, they feel great, the hidden areas beneath the exterior often tell the real story.

There are plenty of people who are willing to do what it takes to lose a few pounds or get a little stronger. Few, however, are tuned into the details associated with functionality and overall health. In particular, the health of the muscles and surrounding fascia.

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Fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps most structures within the body, including muscle. This soft tissue can become restricted due to overuse, trauma or inactivity, often resulting in pain, muscle tension, and diminished blood flow. Imagine a really tough piece of steak and you'll get a decent picture of how your muscles can seize up without proper care.

A great remedy is to spend a few minutes per day engaging in (SMR) or "Self-Myofascial Release." SMR is basically giving yourself a deep massage at no cost. As pleasant as a massage may sound, people aren't exactly lining up for this one. "Initially" this practice is one of the more unpleasant things you'll put yourself through. Overtime though, it gets way easier and the impact on how you move and feel is definitely noticeable.

In the video associated with this story (below) we use a hard Lacrosse ball to really dig into the muscle and I definitely shed a few tears filming this segment. A friendlier option to start off with is a tennis ball or foam roller available at most fitness or sporting goods stores.

This is a really great practice to get into and is also an easy way for business professionals to work out those knots after long days on their feet or sitting on airplanes. Commit to putting yourself through one of these "hurts so good" sessions and you can count this challenge as complete!

BENEFITS
Soothes tight muscles
Alleviates pain associated with common golf ailments
Reduced recovery time


Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: How to swing like Rory

By Ron Kaspriske

fitness-friday-rory-mcilroy.jpgIf you wonder why golfers such as Rory McIlroy can routinely rip drives in excess of 330 yards— despite weighing less than 170 pounds—the answer can be found in kinesiology. McIlroy, like most long hitters, has the ability to dissociate his lower-body movement from his upper-body movement.

In simpler terms, he can rotate his pelvis without his torso moving in the same direction. This ability, known by golf-fitness experts as lower-body dissociation, allows a player to generate a tremendous amount of energy, which can then be used to smash the ball. If you watch a player such as McIlroy swing, you'll actually see his pelvis and lower body moving toward the target while he's still taking the club back with his upper body. This change of direction at the top of the swing creates a whip-like action that allows him to swing a driver through impact with tremendous speed. We're talking in excess of 120 mph. Average golfers swing a driver around 90 mph and a big reason is that they can't lead with their lower body during the downswing.

Related: View Rory McIlroy's swing frame-by-frame

Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear), who trains several players on the PGA Tour as well as amateurs like you and me, says there are many exercises that will help a golfer improve lower-body dissociation. Click on the video below to see a great one. Add this to your workout routine and see if it doesn't help you outdrive your buddies.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.



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

Definitions of the day: Pronation and Supination

By Ron Kaspriske

the-loop-golf-book.jpgGolf instructors and fitness trainers often use the anatomical words when referring to body movement. Most of the time they're correct in their use of these words, but I've seen a lot of golfers and gym goers—including myself—glaze over or get brain cramps trying to remember what they mean and how they apply to a golf swing or working out.

From time to time I'll try to take some of these terms and make them easier to understand—especially when it comes to knowing why they matter on the golf course or in the gym. Here are two:

Pronation and supination: In terms of the lower body, they are the inward and outward movements of the foot. But it's easier to remember what is happening by focusing on the ankle joint. When turning the foot outward, the ankle joint juts or "rolls" laterally inward. And the ankle rolls outward when the foot turns inward. In terms of ankle mobility and overall function—especially in the golf swing—you should be able to roll your ankle laterally in either direction. This will help you maintain your golf posture, shift your weight properly, and also avoid knee injuries.

In terms of the upper body, these are the rotational movements of the forearm, which in turn changes the position of the hand. Pronation is the inward rotation of the forearm (think palms down or away from you) and supination is the outward rotation (palms up or facing you). Forearm rotation is crucial to both power and accuracy in the golf swing. Understanding that the forearms rotate in opposite directions during the back and through-swings—and transfer energy generated by the bigger muscles of the body into the club—is helpful in terms of how you train and how you play. When training in the gym, the ability to rotate in both directions effectively will help protect the tendons and ligaments in the arms and shoulders.

So remember, supination is the outward movement of the ankle and roll of the forearm. And pronation is in the inward movement of the ankle and roll of the forearm. Hope this helps.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


(Photo illustration by Coolife) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Crawl before you walk

By Ron Kaspriske

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Hit the deck. Wait, before you do that, vacuum your carpet or wash your floors, but then hit the deck. If you're looking for exercises that require no special equipment and train you to move in multiple planes, just like you do when you swing a golf club, then you should be crawling. That's the advice of certified strength-and-conditioning specialist Anthony Yeung, who is an instructor for RotarySwing.com and founder of SwingStrengthGolf.com.

"It's important to periodically escape our one-dimensional workouts to unlock a new dimension of strength," he says. "Crawling exercises combine all your major fitness goals: strength, endurance, flexibility, stability, and mobility. By moving your body with just your hands and feet, your total-body strength and control will skyrocket. For golf, that means more distance, better balance through impact, and higher ball flights."

Sounds good. And from a physiological standpoint, crawling exercises also strengthen the joints and the heart, and improve overall mobility with a low risk of injury.

If you're ready to crawl, Young suggests a progression of three exercises in the video below. You should be able to do each exercise for 30-60 seconds proficiently before trying the next one. In no time, you'll be able to do Camillo Villegas' infamous "Spiderman" green-reading pose.


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.



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Health & Fitness

How golf keeps diabetes in check

By Ron Kaspriske

If you have Type I or Type II diabetes, consider walking when you play. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics experience significant drops in blood-glucose levels when performing any activity for more than 20 minutes at a heart rate between 60 and 70 percent of its maximum beats per minute. That rate varies based on age and overall health, but for a 50-year-old, figure about 115-120 beats per minute. Since golf typically lasts more than four hours, golfers quickly reach this zone while walking and then easily maintain it. In fact, many diabetics need to reduce the amount of insulin or diabetes medications they take before, during or after playing golf because of the duration of the activity.

Related: Leave the cart in the barn

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Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


(Photo by Getty Images)

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Pure it with your pecs

By Ron Kaspriske

fitness-friday-rickie-fowler-300.jpgYou need strong and pliable chest muscles (pectoralis) in order to control the motion of a golf club, particularly as you swing your arms up to the top of the backswing and then back down and across your body during the downswing. The lowering of the arms toward the sides of your torso—known as shoulder adduction—might seem effortless since gravity does most of the work. But what isn't effortless is lowering your arms with enough speed and power to deliver a golf club into the impact zone and smash a golf ball. That's where the pecs come into play. If they are elastic enough to expand effectively at the top of the swing, and strong enough to contract powerfully as you swing down into the ball—you're going to pick up some noticeable yardage on your shots. I recently spoke with golf-and-fitness expert Joey Diovisalvi (@coachjoeyD) on this topic. The pecs are often overlooked in golf-fitness training, he says, because most people think the core muscles are more important to generating power. But the chest muscles are crucial not only for power when you swing, but also for maintaining good form. Diovisalvi, who trains a number of PGA Tour pros including Rickie Fowler (pictured) and Dustin Johnson, demonstrated a couple of great chest exercises for golfers. Click on the video below to learn how to train your pecs for golf.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.



(Photo by Dom Furore) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Add a little spice to your core workout

By Ron Kaspriske

fitness-friday-paulina-planks.jpgStrengthening the muscles around your mid-section is so important if you want to play well—not to mention protect your back from injury. The core muscles have a number of chores when you swing the club including generating and delivering power to your rotation through the ball. They also help you maintain your posture, which is important if you want to make solid contact. One of the best, if not the best, exercise for safely building a strong core is the plank. It looks like a push-up except you rest on your forearms, and try to hold the position for as long as you can. It's a much better exercise for your abdomen than sit-ups or crunches since it puts very little stress on your spinal chord. The only knock on planks are that they can be a little boring. The stronger your core gets, the longer you have to hold the position to gain any real benefit from doing them. That's why many people stop doing planks. Before you give up on this wonderful exercise, I suggest you spice up the plank.

Click on the video below to see me do a version of this move that adds an element of cardiovascular training and makes them more interesting to do.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


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