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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: How to swing like Rory (the sequel)

In response to feedback received on my recent Fitness Friday post "How to swing like Rory," I went back to Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear) for more tips on how to emulate what might be the best power swing in golf. If you watch Rory McIlroy swing in slow motion (see below), you'll note how active his lower body is at the start of the downswing. This activity, as I explained a few weeks back, is independent of the movement of his upper body—meaning that his lower body is rotating toward the target while his upper body is still rotating away from it.

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Now, in fairness to all power hitters, this change-of-direction move is not exclusive to Rory. He just happens to do it better than most. Rory's swing is a model for generating power efficiently. A few weeks back Ben showed an exercise that will help you train your pelvis to rotate independently of your upper body. Some of you struggled with this move and found yourselves letting your arms bend and rotating your trunk in the same direction your were turning your hips. So this week, Ben offers a simpler exercise to help train lower-body dissociation. Click on the video below to watch.


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


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Health & Fitness

How to stay on track with your workouts

Golfers have known for years that tracking things such as scores and on-course statistics can lead to improved play. Awareness leads to strengthening weaknesses as well as avoiding mistakes. That same concept has finally taken hold in the fitness world as more and more companies are introducing devices that monitor your health-and-fitness activity. According to Forbes, one of the biggest players in this up-and-coming industry is going to be Apple.

The tech giant already has plans for a health app as part of its new operating system. You can read about it here: Apple.com/ios/ios8/health. The app (pictured below) will be included with the new iPhone 6, reports say. There also are rumors swirling that Apple will introduce a multi-function fitness watch, which makes sense since it's difficult to work out with a phone attached to your body or in your pocket.
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Whether you still document your workouts with pen and paper or use an app, the idea of keeping track of your fitness makes a lot of sense—and one of the biggest reasons is motivation. I believe people who monitor their fitness and eating habits are far more likely to work out and make healthier food choices than those who don't.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Health & Fitness

Is the late season golf schedule really that grueling? Yes, and there's science to prove it

It seems you can't have the FedEx Cup Playoffs without hearing how the frenetic PGA Tour schedule takes its toll on players. And it's true, by professional golf standards, this is a busy time. Dating back to the Open Championship in July, many top players will end up playing seven times in nine weeks through the Tour Championship. That is indeed a lot of high-stakes golf, with a lot of pressure, and a lot of time away from home -- even for guys who can afford a team of full-time nannies. 

Still, is it really that grueling? Let's look at the science.

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In 2004, Harvard Medical School released a study ranking the physical exertion of various activities, with calories burned as the comparative metric. For starters, it said a 185-pound person carrying his own clubs would burn roughly 1,100 calories over a four-and-a-half-round (or 244 calories per half hour). By comparison, a person using a cart for the same time period would burn roughly 700 calories (155 calories per half hour). Now since we know professional golfers don't carry their own clubs but do walk, the number is actually closer to 1,000 calories for a typical round. 

But of course, we also know that pro golfers don't just play four rounds of 18 holes each week. They usually play a pro-am round, and at least another practice round, so that's another 2,000 calories right there. Plus, they practice and warm-up before each of those round, for an average of at least 90 minutes each day (we'll use golf in a cart as a baseline there since there's not much walking involved), so that works out to an additional 2,790 calories over the six days on site at a golf tournament.

And let's remember, golfers also exert themselves away from the golf course. On the tour, it's common for players to work out for at least an hour a day as well, three or four times a week. Harvard puts high-impact exercise at upwards of 900 calories an hour, which works out to another 3,150 calories a week.

That covers the really physical demanding stuff, but there's still plenty more to a tour player's week. Unless they're flying private and they're spared such indignities, traveling means having to stand in line (56 calories per half hour). While they're waiting at the gate, they might choose to sit and read (50 calories). And heaven forbid they brought their kids with them, because that introduces all kinds of taxing stuff like "Child-care: bathing, feeding, etc." (155 calories) or "Playing with kids: moderate effort" (178 calories). Even sleeping a square eight hours can burn 448 calories. And since we're assuming most players aren't celibate, we should probably factor in sex, which a separate study by the University of Montreal puts at 100 calories per session. 

So there you have it. A tour player's week can add up to about 16,000 calories burned over the course of seven days. And that doesn't even cover certain outlier activities. Matt Kuchar, for instance, recently admitted he hurt his back driving around looking for a Slip 'N Slide for his kids. As far as we know, Harvard doesn't have a measurement for that.

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Training for better hip rotation

Muscular symmetry is paramount to staying injury free, and you should always exercise muscles on the left and right sides of the body—as well as the back and front—similarly. However, when it comes to synchronizing the downswing and creating clubhead speed, a key ingredient is generating good internal hip rotation on your dominant side (right hip for right-handed swingers). What does having good internal hip rotation mean? If you're sitting as you read this, with your butt on the edge of the chair and feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart, you should be able to touch your left knee to your right and vice versa—or at least come very close—without having to move the other leg inward.

the-loop-fitness-hip-rotation-300.jpgAlthough much of the lower body is active at the start of the downswing, rotating the right hip internally, meaning toward the target, is often cited by golf instructors as the key move if you want to hit solid shots. If you can fire that right hip toward the target as you start down, it's going to cure a host of swing flaws including poor timing and swing path. So how do you train your right hip? The folks at SuperFlex Fitness (@superflexfit), trainer Dave Herman and golf instructor Andrew Park (@theandrewpark), have developed a cool way to do it using a stretch band while you work on your swing.The concept is make you work harder to rotate the hip and really feel what it has to do through resistance.

Watch the video below to see Andrew and one of his students demonstrate it.




And if you're interested in more ways to improve your swing using flex bands, their SuperFlex Golf Swing Kit ($69.95) comes with a variety of bands and how-to instructions. You can buy it at superflexfitness.com. A single band costs $5 to $36 depending on thickness and function.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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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.



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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.


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