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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Stronger hips = Longer drives

Watch Rory McIlroy hit a tee shot (see below) and you can't help but notice how fast his hips rotate counterclockwise when he starts his downswing. They look like they snap toward the target, leaving his upper body and club in the dust. This lag between lower-body and upper-body rotation generates a tremendous amount of force for a golf swing and is a good reason Rory can regularly bust drives in the 330-yard range or longer.

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Most golfers don't have that kind of explosive hip action when they swing down, but even modest improvements in the way you move them can yield noticeable results in how far you hit the ball, says Dave Herman, a trainer to many professional golfers and creator of @superflexfit stretch bands.

Herman, teaching professional Andrew Park (@andrewparkgolf) and LPGA Tour 2013 Rookie of the Year Moriya Jutanugarn demonstrate a few exercises you can do to not only improve your hip action, but also strengthen your glutes, shoulder and mid-back muscles. Click on the two videos below to see what you need to do to launch the ball farther than ever.





Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Health & Fitness

Blisters 101

Your hands feel like tenderized meat—now what?

In hindsight, maybe that third bucket of range balls was a mistake. It's OK, we all get a little overzealous when golf season begins. If the result of your practice session is a blister or three, here's a refresher on how to deal with them (so you can go hit more range balls).

the-loop-blisters-101.jpg1. Drain with a sterile needle by piercing an edge, not the middle. Leave the layer of dead skin intact if possible.

2. Dab antibiotic ointment on it.

3. Place a padded bandage over the area. Moleskin works best if the blister is at the base of the fingers or on the palm.

PREVENT DEFENSE
Feel a tender spot? Before the blister occurs, cover it with thin athletic tape. You might look like Rocky, but you'll be able to last at least another round.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: A refresher on deadlifts

Deadlifts are often regarded as one of the best exercises for anyone, but they're particularly helpful for golfers since they improve strength or functionality in a number of areas of the body needed to make a good golf swing: the legs, back, hips, butt, etc.

This full-body, compound exercise does require good form, however, or you risk suffering anything from shin bruises to herniated spinal discs. To that end, strength-training expert Mike Boyle (@bodybyboyle) offers a quick tutorial on the deadlift. His advice is both informative and interesting. Click on the video below to watch it.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Health & Fitness

It's National Posture Month! Work on yours

If you're reading this on your smartphone, there's a good chance your shoulders, neck and head are jutting forward and your spine is bent. This is the very posture that doctors and fitness experts are trying to correct before it does harm to both your health and your golf swing.

Since this is National Posture Month, we reached out to two posture experts for a quick refresher on how you should be standing and also how you should address the golf ball.

For the standing advice, posture expert Dr. Steven Weineger (@bodyzone) offers these tips:

1. Stand tall: Not stiff. Relax, and length or float your head toward the ceiling.

2. Ground your feet: Slowly come up onto your toes, and then your heels. Roll your feet out and then in. Press all four corners of your feet into the ground.

3. Center your pelvis: Arch your low back and then tuck your pelvis. Find the center point as you lengthen your spine.

4. Open your torso: Lift the shoulders up and roll them back. Keep your neck lengthened and head tall as you pull your shoulders back down.

5. Level your head: Look straight ahead and tuck your chin slightly to keep it level.
Weineger says to repeat this exercise two or three times a day.

For help with your golf posture, Golf Digest Teaching Professional David Leadbetter (@davidleadbetter) has some good advice. Click on the video to hear what he has to say.


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.
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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Why you should be doing chops

There are many variations of the exercise called chops. As you might imagine, the movement gets its name from the similarity it has with motion needed to swing an axe. The reason why chops are so good for golfers, says Golf Digest fitness advisor Randy Myers (@randymyers_), is that they help improve a number of components to making an effective swing.

"They help with everything from tempo, to weight transfer, to improving torso strength and shoulder mobility," Myers says. "The golfers I work with do them often."

As I mentioned earlier, there are many versions including reverse chops (going from low to high across the body), kneeling chops and pull-and-push chops (moving a bar across and then away from the body).

But to keep it simple, Myers suggests doing a standing chop to improve tempo and weight transfer from the ground to the core and mid-back region, and a kneeling chop to improve torso strength and shoulder mobility.

You can use a medicine ball, dumbbell, or stretch bands to perform these exercises, but ideally you would perform them with a cable machine. To see Davis Love III demonstrate these exercises, click on the video below.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Health & Fitness

Is this the hidden source of your back pain?

There are a lot of reasons golfers suffer from back pain including weak, ineffective glute and hip muscles and poor mechanics. But one of the most common reasons often goes undetected.

fitness-sacroiliac-joint-260.jpgThe sacroiliac joint (SI joint) -- the spot where the spine connects with the pelvis (pictured) -- is estimated to be the culprit in roughly 30 percent of back-pain cases. That estimate might be even higher for golfers since the SI joint, though extremely durable, can take a beating during the golf swing. The SI joint isn't particularly mobile, but golfers often rely on the lower back to generate the turn in their swings. This is particularly true of those with weak hip and glute muscles and poor range of motion in their mid-back region. Another cause of SI-joint dysfunction in golf is that it's a one-sided sport, and golfers tend to put more stress on one side of the pelvis than the other.

The problem with SI-joint dysfunction is that it's not always easy to diagnose. Doctors sometimes think there are issues with the spinal discs—herniated or degenerative—or the sciatic nerve when it's actually the SI joint. Often the pain the patient describes leads them to those conclusions.

The takeaway from this is that if you suffer from chronic back pain, and the diagnosis and treatment weren't directed toward repair of the SI joint, you might want to head back to your orthopedic doctor and ask to be specifically tested for SI-joint issues. If your back pain is easily reproduced during these tests, there's a good chance you've found the hidden source and now corrective measures can be taken. Treatment can range from anti-inflammatory medication to fusing the bottom part of the spine.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.
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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Improving your shoulder turn

One of the biggest differences between the swings of a high-handicapper and a better player is the way the shoulders rotate. Poorer players tend to rotate their shoulders back and through level with the ground. This leads to a host of problems with the golf swing—most notably poor contact and sliced or pulled shots.

While it might feel natural for the shoulders to rotate level with the ground—the way they do in sports such as baseball or tennis—you have to remember that a golf club is NOT swung on a plane parallel with the ground. The plane is tilted. In order to swing on the proper path and make solid, center-face contact, the shoulders need to rotate on a tilted axis. That's how better players swing. The left shoulder moves down and the right shoulder moves up during the backswing and the reverse happens during the follow-through. Here is Tom Watson demonstrating a bad and good backswing. Note the shoulders.

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Photos by Stephen Szurlej

Golf-and-fitness instructor Karen Palacios-Jansen (@KPJgolf) further explains:
"The shoulders turn perpendicular to the spine," she says, "so from the forward-tilted position you create bending from the hips at address, the shoulders should tilt when you turn. A lot of higher-handicap players lift their arms to get the club to the top. The front shoulder never tilts downward nor does it get behind the ball."

To fix this issue, Palacios-Jansen has a swing drill and an exercise to get the shoulders to turn properly. Click on the video to see them.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Health & Fitness

How to hit it 463 yards

Before two years ago, Jeff Flagg's biggest sports accomplishment was a five-year stint in the minor leagues playing first base. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound native of Jacksonville thought his destiny was Major League Baseball. Instead, he should have paid more attention to "the sound."

"My father still talks about it," Flagg says. "I was about 15, and we were playing golf at this muny. A bunch of guys were all around me on this tee box that was tucked back into the trees—like a theater. I was using these hand-me-down clubs, and I absolutely crushed a drive. The sound was unreal. It reverberated off the trees, and the ball flew 50 to 60 yards past the next-closest ball. That's the first time I ever remember knowing I had a knack for hitting long drives."

When his baseball career stalled, Flagg decided to see how much of a knack he really had. Smart move. In just his second attempt, the 29-year-old won the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship last fall in Mesquite, Nev., and $250,000 with a 365-yard blast in the finals. During the competition, he also hit one 463 yards, a personal best. (The ball carried about 425, he says.)

"Later on I was allowed to walk out onto the grid and see the spot where the ball came to rest," he says. "I looked back and couldn't see the tee. It was like driving a par 5."

When Flagg isn't bombing tee shots, he's in the gym working as a personal trainer for his new company, REPS Golf, or working on his body in hopes of defending his long-drive title in November. Read his favorite tips for crushing the ball off the tee >>

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.
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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: A cool new way to work out

In the May fitness issue of Golf Digest—the one with Lexi Thompson on the cover—our resident expert Ben Shear (@ben_shear) put a fresh spin on an old workout concept to develop a new and beneficial exercise program for golfers.

Many of you probably aren't familiar with eccentric or "negative" training. But after reading this article, you should have a better understanding on what it is and why it can help you play better and feel better. Click on this link to the article to read what it's all about.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.
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Health & Fitness

Buggin' out over mosquitoes? A new study might explain why

For years scientists have said that mosquitoes are more attracted to certain people because of their, well, body odor. But a recent study published in PLOS One said that it had more to do with DNA than a specific smell. The paper concluded that 62 percent to 83 percent of a person's attractiveness to mosquitoes is determined by their skin cells (DNA).

This is interesting news considering the increasing amount of encephalitis cases—such as West Nile virus—reported in the U.S. Golfers are among the highest-risk groups in America thanks to their prolonged exposure to areas where mosquitoes breed and live. So if you seem to be the guy or girl in your golf group that gets bit more than his or her fair share, there are three things you can do to reduce your odds on contracting a disease:

the-loop-health-mosquito.jpg1. Use a repellent with DEET or Picaridin. Keep in mind that these chemicals don't kill mosquitoes, they just keep them from biting you. A product with 20 percent DEET should protect you for an entire round of golf.

2. If you want a natural protector, go with lemon oil of eucalyptus. This plant byproduct is registered by the EPA for use as a repellent.

3. Thick clothing helps. And using a product that emits a scent from citronella oil can't hurt. Some companies sell bracelets infused with citronella oil such as Mosquitno ($3.99, mosquitnoband.com). Keep in mind that a study from North Dakota State University showed that the oil was only effective as a repellent in closed-off spaces.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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