The Local Knowlege

Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Why you can't stay behind the ball

Most people think of the "glutes" as two massive muscles that help fill out a pair of jeans. But there are actually three types of glute muscles—maximus, medius, and minimus—and it's the middle child that is often neglected but plays a key role in hitting solid shots. 

Golfers who tend to excessively sway or slide during the swing likely have failed to activate the glute medius muscles. The maximus muscles play a key role in stabilizing the pelvis when you swing, but it's the medius that keep the body laterally stable. Without lateral stability, you'll likely lurch toward the target and in front of the ball's position usually resulting in a weak shot off the toe of the club. Or you'll sway too far away from the target in the backswing and end up hitting a thin or fat shot off your back foot. 

Do either of these results seem like your typical miss? If so, Golf Digest fitness advisor Ralph Simpson (@ralphsimpsonpt) has a simple exercise you can do prior to a round or in the gym to activate the medius muscles. "It's hard with traditional exercises like a traditional two-legged squat to get the glute medius primed," Simpson says. "But this does the trick."

Click on the video to see me demonstrate Simpson's activation exercise.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

Why unplugging the treadmill matters

If you're used to running on a treadmill and then go for a run in the great outdoors, one of the first things you might notice is that the real deal feels quite different. Tread runners often describe the difference as running less upright and feeling like the feet are pushing into the ground with more effort. In short, it's more challenging.

Those feelings happen to be real. While doing things like changing the elevation grade of the belt will help simulate what it's like to really run, traditional treadmills fall short of activating and conditioning the lower-body muscles the way they are trained during a sprint or a longer-distance jog.

fitness-treadmill-sprints.jpgThat's why some gyms across the country are adding a very creative piece of cardio equipment to their arsenal—a motorless treadmill. The concave designs of "The Curve," made by a company called Woodway, and the TrueForm "Runner,"  force users to work the lower body harder. They have to dig into the front part of the belt and push off the back part in order to get the thing moving. There isn't that same feeling of duck-paddling the way there is with a traditional treadmill. Another benefit to motorless treadmills is that you can sprint on them beyond the 15 mph limit of most motorized belts. If you're into interval training, this equipment will really take your workout to a new level of effort.

Unfortunately, these types of treadmills haven't made it into the mainstream yet, so they aren't easy to find in commercial gyms. And if you're thinking of buying one, they cost north of $5,000 new. What can you do in the interim to get a taste of what this type of training is like? Unplug the tread you normally run on. Click on the video to see me demonstrate what it's like.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: New melanoma treatments are kicking cancer's butt

This year an estimated 73,870 cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 10,000 people will die from the disease, the Skin Cancer Foundation reports. As alarming as those statistics sound--especially to a sun-drenched golfer--there is good news in the fight against melanoma.

If detected early--before cancerous cells infiltrate the body’s lymph nodes--the survival rate is now 98 percent. And for those with advanced stages of the disease, the odds of survival are on the rise, too, thanks to an innovative treatment being used at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

fitness-sunscreen-lg.jpgCheckpoint-inhibitors immunotherapy, which involves administering a cancer-fighting drug to patients intravenously, has roughly doubled the long-term survival rate of people who have late-stage melanoma. The rate, based on follow-up studies of nearly 2,000 patients, is now 21 percent, the center reports. That rate is expected to improve again now that a second inhibitor drug was approved in 2014, says Dr. Jeffrey Gershenwald, a professor of surgical oncology at MD Anderson.

One of the mysteries of cancer is that its cells largely go undetected by the body’s natural immune system. But the new drugs have proved effective in getting the immune system to recognize the mutated cells and destroy them.

To help prevent and beat the disease, have your skin checked annually. If you have more than 100 moles on your body, you’re at greater risk. Black and brown moles that are scaly, large or asymmetrical in shape, could be melanoma.

For everything you need to know about skin cancer including a chart of what a cancerous mole looks like read, "Ways to Avoid and Detect Skin Cancer"

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Illustration by Ken Tackett)

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

Strong muscles = strong bones, study proves

Getting enough Vitamin D and calcium, either through diet or supplements, has long been one of the most effective ways to avoid the brittle-bone condition known as osteoporosis. This condition, a common problem for golfers in the hip and lower-back regions, can be so severe that even a hard cough might cause a fracture.

But now a study proves that one of the most effective ways to counter osteoporosis is through targeted strength training. The University of Missouri's department of nutrition and exercise physiology concluded that after conducting a six-month study of middle-aged men who had low bone mass. Those in the study that did 60-120 minutes per week of specific exercises such as jumping, deadlifts, squats, and shoulder presses "significantly" increased their bone density (Click here to view the study).

The takeaway for golfers is that hip-hinging and lower-back exercises that incorporate an external load are very important to bone health--especially when you consider the punishment those areas of the body endure during the golf swing. If you're just getting started with strength training, Golf Digest fitness advisor Ralph Simpson (@ralphsimpsonpt) suggests you first do these movements without any weight working on form. But then add weight and slowly increase it over months of time.

To see me demonstrate one exercise that will help improve bone density, click on the video below.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: How to get the same workout in half the time

In golf, many people think the reason slow play occurs isn't because some golfers are too deliberate in their shot-making. It's the time they are wasting between shots. You could make the same point about gym-goers who spend more than an hour working out when they can get a similar results in half the time -- or even less.

If you want to dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend in the gym (who doesn't?), start thinking about developing a routine of "compound exercises." Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear), who trains several top pros including Luke Donald and Webb Simpson, says there are a lot of exercises you can do that train multiple muscle groups at the same time. A simple example of this would be combining a dumbbell hammer curl with an overhead press. Or to really load it up, adding a squat into the movement pattern. Holding two dumbbells and going from a squat to an arm curl to an overhead press is so efficient; it works the quads, glutes, hip flexors, biceps, forearm muscles, deltoids and more in one shot. So say you normally do three sets of biceps curls, squats and military presses. That is nine sets of exercises that you just turned into three sets. You just cut your workout time by roughly 66 percent.

And if you continuously move around the gym, breaking only for water, you can save even more time as that rapid movement takes the place of working on a cardio machine like the treadmill or elliptical.

So how do you design compound exercises? Generally speaking lower-body exercises are great when paired with upper-body movements. And push exercises are great when paired with pulls. You can create a great number of compound movements just by using that formal. For example, doing lunges while twisting your torso. Or doing a push-up while alternating leg raises.

Sometimes, Shear says, you only have time for 10 minutes of exercise. That's when you really could use the efficiency of a compound exercise. To watch Shear and trainer Ryan Anderson demonstrate the ultimate "short-on-time" workout, click on the video below.


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

Rory's injury might affect his play long after this season

If what Rory McIlroy says is true, and he suffered a "total rupture of the left ATFL (ankle ligament) and associated joint capsule damage," there is a small, yet significant chance that even after his ankle heals, the injury might hamper his golf swing. A study done in 1999 that looked at treatment for the most severe ruptures of the anterior talofibular ligament—known as a Grade III sprain—reported that up to 30 percent of patients suffered chronic symptoms from the injury. Those symptoms included synovitis, tendinitis, stiffness, swelling and pain. In short, the joint hurt and felt unstable long after the injury. It's also interesting to note that it didn't matter whether the patients reporting chronic problems underwent surgery or a more conservative approach to recovery. The study was conducted by Penn State University's department of orthopaedics at the Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center.

Related: Rory McIlroy ruptures ankle ligament playing soccer 

While you might like Rory's odds using the 30-percent statistic as a barometer, keep in mind that his acknowledgment of "capsule damage," makes it even more likely he'll have long-term issues from the injury. "A torn capsule heals with scar tissue that might become a constant source of irritation leading to chronic pain," says Golf Digest health advisor Dr. Ara Suppiah (@draraoncall). "It could ultimately lead to compensations from other parts of his body." 

Suppiah predicts it will take roughly six weeks before Rory starts playing competitively, but that doesn't mean his ankle is going to feel great when he hits shots or walks 20 to 25 miles on uneven ground over four days of a tournament. It's going to be interesting to see how much power he can generate in his downswing. A key to Rory's swing is the amount of ground force he can create by pushing down with his left foot and then rotating around that ankle joint when he hits shots. Timing issues can also occur -- especially with a swing as precise as McIlroy's, Suppiah says. And one more thing to consider is Rory's vigorous off-course training program. Doing things like squats, box jumps, deadlifts and sprints all require stable ankles.

The good news for McIlroy is that the ATFL and the other two ligaments associated with lateral ankle sprains -- the calcaenofibular and the posterior talofibular -- are incredibly strong and durable. They take quite a beating over a lifetime and tend to heal well, albeit scar tissue around the joint can inflame them from time to time, Suppiah says.

While McIlroy's injury occurred playing soccer, it's a good reminder that golfers need to train the muscles and other soft tissue around the joint whenever they work out. With that in mind, we spoke with world-renowned strength-and-fitness expert Mark Verstegen (@TeamEXOS) and asked him for help with the ankle sprains. Click here for his advice

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Will walking the golf course help you lose weight?

The health benefits of walking are well documented. It improves mobility, proprioception, coordination, blood flow and lung function—not to mention improving your mood and ability to sleep soundly. But if you want to start walking when you play golf to help lose weight, you might end up frustrated.

An in-depth analysis of several studies on walking showed that dramatically increasing the amount you walk will help you lose weight—but just barely. How little are we talking? The analysis used nine studies that included several hundred people. Those participants increased the amount they walked by roughly two miles a day for 16 weeks. At the end of that period, the group, on average, had lost slightly more than three pounds.

golfer_walking_course_260.jpgThe analysis, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, indicated that if you walked approximately two rounds of golf in a day without carrying your bag, you would lose less than a pound of weight. Obviously adding the external load of roughly 30 pounds to your back in the form of a bag, balls and clubs would help lose more weight, but it wouldn't be significant enough to make walking when you play an efficient method for weight loss.

Back in 2009, I reported on how far golfers walk when they play. You can read about it here: What's Your Golf Mileage?

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: What your heart can tell you about your golf game

The typical response to a bad round is to get back out there and work harder on your game. But instead of grinding on the range, what you might need to improve is quality couch time. That could be oversimplifying things, says Dr. Ara Suppiah (@draraoncall), a physician who treats several players on the PGA Tour including Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Vijay Singh and Ian Poulter. But studies on good heart health are concluding more and more that it's important to know when to rest and when to train.

Ever notice that after a substantial lapse from the gym or golf course, your first time back is better than you expected? "That probably is the result of your stress level being low and your rested body and heart functioning very well. It can absorb the training," Suppiah says, "but if you're training under duress, you're hurting your performance, hurting your health and risking total burnout."

The secret to understanding when to train might come from a measurement known as heart-rate variability (HRV). HRV is the variation in intervals between your heartbeats and is directly tied to the nervous system. A high variability is a good thing because it demonstrates a dominance of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation, digestion and recovery. A low variability demonstrates a dominance of the sympathetic system, which is associated with anxiety, stress, inflammation and fatigue.

If your HRV is low, you're significantly more likely to suffer a heart attack or develop disorders such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol. "And the last thing you should be doing is pushing yourself during these high-stress periods," Suppiah says. "It's counterproductive. You're unlikely to see good results and more likely to get injured. Sometimes you have to put the clubs down and rest."

the-loop-monitaring-your-heart.jpgIf you want to know when is a good time to train, you have to determine a baseline HRV. This involves buying a heart-rate monitor (strap or finger harness) and syncing it with a smartphone app like Ithlete ($9) or BioForce HRV (free). The monitors cost about $50 to $125. Once you have the correct equipment, start checking your HRV at the same time each day. Suppiah suggests doing it in the morning before you drink coffee or tea, which can impair a correct reading. You need to do this for about a month to establish a baseline HRV (1 to 100). Then you need to pay attention to daily changes in that number.

If you see a downward trend over a handful of days—your HRV is getting lower—that means it's time to rest or limit training to low-intensity activities. Maybe work on your putting, Suppiah says. Once your HRV returns to its baseline, then you're free to work harder. "Perhaps the best part of tracking your HRV is that you'll become much more aware of your stress levels," Suppiah says. "You'll try to relax more."

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Illustration by Noma Bar)

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

That bowl of peanuts might save your life

If you want to feel a little less guilty about snacking in the 19th hole after a round of golf, reach for the peanuts—or any type of nut, actually. A study of 120,000 people in the Netherlands conducted over roughly a 30-year period concluded that if you eat 10 grams of nuts or more daily, you reduce the risk of death from respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease and diabetes. Eating nuts also reduced the risk of getting cancer or suffering cardiovascular issues like heart attacks, the study said.

the-loop-peanuts.jpgNo one is sure why they are such a healthy choice, but almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, etc., have long been touted as super foods because they contain protein, fiber, good fat and antioxidants. So a couple handfuls might be doing more than just satiating your appetite. The study was conducted by Maastricht University in the Netherlands and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.  

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


(Photo by Getty Images)

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: The painless warm-up for golf and the gym (part 3)

If you're looking for an easy way to prep your muscles, tendons and ligaments for either your workout or a round of golf, Golf Digest Fitness Advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear) has a simple routine that can get you ready. Over the past week, he and trainer Ryan Anderson have demonstrated two of his multi-purpose exercises that do a great job of priming the body. The first two exercises were the "step-and-reach" and the "lateral-lunge crossover."

You can see them here:
Part 1: Step-and-Reach Exercise
Part 2: The Lateral-Lunge Crossover

The final exercise is known as the "lunge, reach and twist." The purpose of it is to warm up the muscles on the front part of the body as well as prepping it for the rotational movements critical to playing good golf. Watch the video below to see how it's performed.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

--------------------------------------------------------
WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS

... Read
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today