If you play the game, you know golfers are very adept at enduring long-term suffering. But even if you concede that you'll never play a round without some degree of frustration, wouldn't it be great if you could stop having to down half a bottle of ibuprofen in the ensuing days? Now's the time to finally get rid of whatever ails you. Here I'm focusing on the five most common golfer hot spots and offer advice on how to fix them. Do what I recommend as often as you can, and work in the prescribed order of treating the problem, improving the trouble spot, and then adopting a daily habit to avoid a recurrence. Here are your plans of attack.
Get Fit: Health & Fitness
Fix What Ails You
It's time to finally vanquish that lingering pain
THE LOWER BACK
TREAT IT WITH: CAT-AND-DOG ROCKS
Get on all fours, and arch your back. Next, slowly sag your back so your tailbone points upward. Push backward so your butt moves toward your heels. Let your back round just before your butt sits on your heels. Then squeeze your glutes, and return to the start position. Repeat.
IMPROVE IT WITH: SIDE PLANKS
Lie on your side fully extended, and lift your hips completely off the ground so you're supported by only one bent arm and your feet. Be sure the supporting arm is directly under your torso. Hold this position until muscle failure. Flip over and repeat.
⇐Keep your hips raised high. Don't slouch.
DEFEAT IT WITH: FREQUENT WALKS
Prolonged sitting can put too much pressure on the lower spine.
TREAT IT WITH: FOAM-ROLLING
Use this form of soft-tissue massage on the front and sides of your thighs. Continue to foam-roll the area until you feel the muscle tissue softening and the knee pain start to subside. In many cases, even though pain is felt in the knee, the source of the problem is a trigger point in the thigh.
IMPROVE IT WITH: QUAD STRETCHES
Contract your stomach muscles, and lift one of your legs behind you. Grab your ankle, and pull the elevated foot as close to your butt as you can. Make sure the leg stays behind the torso, and don't arch your back. Hold each leg for 30 seconds.
⇐Don't let your foot sway outside your leg.
DEFEAT IT WITH: BIKE RIDESThis low-impact activity strengthens the knees without stressing them.
TREAT IT WITH: STICKUPS
Lie on your back, or for a greater challenge sit with your back against a wall. Raise your arms like you're being held up at gunpoint. Leading with the wrists, push both arms and your head against the floor or wall while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, then repeat.
⇐Press firmly into the floor or wall.
IMPROVE IT WITH: ACCORDIONSHold a piece of elastic tubing in front of you with your arms close to your body. Keeping your elbows tucked in your rib cage, stretch the band simultaneously in each direction while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for a moment. Return to start and repeat.
DEFEAT IT WITH: CLIMBING
Whether it's the monkey bars, a ladder or an indoor rock wall, your shoulders will greatly benefit.
TREAT IT WITH: FOOT MASSAGESTake a seat and rest one ankle on top of the opposite knee. Pull your toes up and back for 30 to 60 seconds. Then massage the connective tissue on the bottom of your foot. You can do these treatments as much as you want, but it's recommended you do them at least daily for a minimum of five minutes.
IMPROVE IT WITH: TOE CURLSTake your shoes and socks off, and sit down on a chair with a towel under your toes. While keeping your knees and ankles as still as possible, curl your toes under and try to crumple the towel as much as you can. Start on one end of the towel and try to drag your toes to the other side.
⇐Try to scrunch the towel from one end to the other.
DEFEAT IT WITH: STAIRCASESEvery time you take the stairs, you strengthen your calves and improve ankle mobility. Both protect your feet.
TREAT IT WITH: KNEE PUSHES AND PULLS
Sit on a firm chair, and rest one ankle over the opposite knee. Push down hard on the raised knee until you feel your hip stretching. Hold for 30 seconds. Then pull that same knee up until you feel a stretch in your glute. Hold for 30 seconds and switch leg positions. Do these as often as you can.
IMPROVE IT WITH: STEP-DOWNS
Place one foot on a step (about 12 inches high) and the other on the ground. Lift the grounded foot to the step's height, but keep it elevated. Step back, while keeping the lead shin vertical, as you feel your rear-end muscles contract. Repeat 12 to 15 times per leg for two sets every other day.
DEFEAT IT WITH: SWIMMING POOLS
Walking in the shallow end and swimming in the deep part improve hip strength and mobility.