Take the bite out of frosty days

How to avoid pain and injury when you tee it up this winter

January 2009

Why do our hands sting when we hit golf balls on cold days? It has to do with the way the body attempts to stay warm, says Ralph Simpson, Golf Digest Professional Advisor on health and fitness. The body, says Simpson, would rather protect vital organs and conserve its core temperature, so secondary muscles and tissues receive less blood and oxygen. Consequently, when we're cold, vessels in our extremities constrict, reducing blood flow to the skin and decreasing heat loss. A lack of blood in the hands causes the pain we feel when we hit a shot.

"Just like a cold rubber band easily tears," says Simpson, "muscles that receive less blood and oxygen are more susceptible to strains and tears. They allow a smaller range of motion for joints, which impairs coordination, strength and power."

Simpson says the best way to keep blood pumping and improve coordination when you play is to activate your muscles. Take 10 minutes to do jumping jacks, running in place and high knee kicks before heading to the range or teeing off. If you wait more than 15 minutes between shots, pace back and forth and jump around. Injury prevention will outweigh any embarrassment.

Shake it up before you play

A blended shake or smoothie with the proper ingredients might help you become mentally and physically unflappable on the course.

Dr. John Berardi, nutrition director for the Royal Canadian Golf Association, says such a drink should include four elements: a source of protein, such as skim milk or whey powder, to help stabilize blood sugar and maintain levels of energy during the round; frozen or whole fruit, whose complex carbs help sustain concentration; ground nuts or flax seeds for Omega-3 fatty acids to improve mood and mental outlook; and iced green tea to hydrate and stimulate the central-nervous system, critical to physical performance and increasing alertness.

Berry Blast
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 tablespoon greens powder
2 cups iced green tea

12-Ounce Shake:
Calories: 300 | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protien: 30g | Fat: 10g


Juniors Encouraged To Use Pullcarts

Pullcarts have an image problem—kids don't think they're cool. But Stephen Hamblin, executive director of the American Junior Golf Association, believes they're a lot better for a child's back than carrying 30 pounds of golf equipment. Starting this year, the AJGA has approved the use of pullcarts for all contestants. Last year, kids 12 to 15 (the youngest AJGA group) were allowed to use pullcarts for the first time.

Although there isn't any defin-itive study that cites permanent injuries from carrying a golf bag, Dr. Bill Howard, an expert in sports med- icine, says at a minimum "the heavy load can cause irritated muscles and fatigue in kids."

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