So this week's Fitness Friday is devoted to answering some of your tougher questions. Special thanks goes to trainers Chris Noss (@coachnoss), Randy Myers (@randymyersglc), Ben Shear (@ben_shear), Ralph Simpson (@mostpt) and Dave Herman (@athletestrainin) for answering the questions. All of these gentlemen work with professional golfers including players such as Luke Donald, Camillo Villegas, Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson, Fred Funk, Gary Woodland and Trevor Immelman. So you're getting the advice from the best of the best. Enjoy.
-- Ron Kaspriske, Fitness Editor, Golf Digest
From @nigelblenk: I'm slowly recovering from a ruptured disc in my lower back. I'm ready to advance from stretching. What would you recommend next?
Answer from Chris Noss: It would be best to know the details of the injury, but in general, the first things that usually go are balance, hip and ankle mobility and the ability to disassociate the upper body from the lower body. I'd recommend an eight-pointed, star-pattern toe touch exercise to get you going. Start with your hands on your hips, and then slowly progress to reaching across your body with the opposite arm. Begin with your back in a neutral position, head tall to keep the correct pelvic tilt and limit your range of toe touch to about a foot in each direction. Once you can double your distance in the touch without any pain, you can add opposite-side, overhead arm drivers to help get the upper and lower body working together again. Only go to the point of being successful in the movement pattern. You might experience stiffness, but the movements should be pain free or you need to stop.
From @chemicalfred: What kind of cardio is best for optimal golf performance?
Answer from Dave Herman and former Masters champion Trevor Immelman: We feel like the best cardio is low impact. We focus on joint-friendly exercises for career longevity and injury prevention. We prefer stationary bikes because there is a leg-strengthening component along with the cardio conditioning. We also like walking on a slight incline, elliptical machines and swimming--all great for their low-impact, cross-training and synchronizing effects on the body. Trevor feels that light interval training is very important, especially in preparation for hilly courses, so that he's not winded when he's about to hit a shot.
From @scratchplaya: What muscles should I specifically train to hit longer tee shots?
Answer from Ben Shear: Distance is a byproduct of many variables such as swing mechanics, centeredness of contact and spin rate. But from a physical perspective, working on being able to stabilize the upper body while initiating the transition with the lower-body would be one key area. Use anti-rotation/rotary stability exercises for the core to do this. I would also work on your glutes. EMG studies have shown that the glutes are the only muscle in the body firing 100 percent during the downswing.
From @silverstargolf: I've got 30 minutes before I tee off. What should I do? Hit balls? Stretch? Something else? I'm 52-years-old.
Answer from Randy Myers: Do what the tour players do and stretch for 10 minutes, then chip and putt. Here's what I suggest:
Find a quiet place in the locker room and lay down on the floor on your back.
Bottom line: If you don't have a lot of time to hit balls before playing then you should warm-up your body and short game.
From @brettwarren2308: What exercises strengthen your anterior/posterior tilt?
Answer from Ralph Simpson: A neutral spine is very important and tilting too far forward (anterior) or too far back (posterior) are signs of poor posture that can lead to injuries when you swing the club. I would suggest working on your glutes, abdominals, hamstrings and hip flexors. Some good all-around exercises for this region would be planks, knee hugs, single-leg Romanian deadlifts and reverse lunges.
Illustration by Colin Hayes