Just as many golfers have turned to fitness as a way of improving their games in recent years, many fitness products have started popping up at the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. We hoofed it up and down the 2.1 million square feet of the Orlando Convention Center--well, maybe not all of it--looking for the coolest new products that fitness-oriented golfer should have. There was a lot to look at, but we narrowed it down to six of our favorites.
These products will either make you a better player, or help you feel better when you play:
Nuun Hydration Tablets ($24 for four packs of 12 tablets)
Whether you're playing 18 holes on a hot, humid day or on a freezing, windy day, many golfers underestimate the importance of hydration for maintaining mental focus. As we've said many times before, sports drinks are a sham. (Related article: Fitness Friday: Are Sports Drinks a Sham?) But if you find it difficult to drink enough water, Nuun tablets will solve your hydration deficiencies. Each tablet has zero grams of sugar (they're sweetened with Stevia), less than eight calories, and essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. If you're not crazy about drinking electrolytes, try Nuun's new All Day tablets, which instead offer a blend of A, B, C, D and E vitamins. For the past couple of years, I've kept a pack of Nuun tablets in my gym bag. And now I'll keep a pack of All Day Nuun in my golf bag. --Ashley
SpeedFlex Pro Sticks ($90)
As a junior golfer, I took about a dozen lessons with Bob Toski. Today, the 86-year-old consistently shoots lower than age. One reason? For decades, he's made it a daily habit to grab a couple of light dumbbells and swing them back and forth. He told me this is his quick and easy way to build his golf muscles. SpeedFlex Pro sticks achieve a similar result, but offer the added benefit of being shaped like a golf shaft. They're available in three lengths (43.5, 44.5 and 45.5 inches) and weigh three to four pounds. Once you swing them back and forth 15 or 20 times, you'll feel the activation of those "golf muscles" (ie, the muscles in your back and core) and you'll increase flexibility in much-needed areas. --Ashley
Getting a massage every time you endure an ache or pain would be much too costly, both money-wise and time-wise. That's why self-massage is important. We've written about foam rollers before (Read article: Self-Massage: Roll Away Your Pain), but if you need something more intense, the Rumble Roller might be exactly what you need. Made in firm and extra-firm versions, the roller, which comes in two sizes, features a plethora of asymmetrical spikes that really penetrate muscles to break up tension. Use it every day to prevent injury. --Ashley
Trigger Point's Cold Roller ($100)
Speaking of tight muscles, another way to cure them is with massage AND ice. For those of you who have chronic and painful aches (IT band syndrome, sore calves, plantar fasciitis, etc.), Trigger Point's Cold Roller ($110) could be even better than a standard foam roller. The steel cylinder is filled with gel and, after you leave it in the freezer for a few hours, combines the benefits of ice with self-massage, numbing then relieving muscles. --Ashley
Gladiator Balm ($12.95)
Golfers suffering from aches and pains often carry around a tub of Icy Hot or Bengay for immediate relief. The problem? It's often a one-and-done use if you keep them in your golf bag. They melt too easily. Gladiator Balm, debuting its product nationally this week at the PGA Show, guarantees it won't melt at high temperatures. And it offers the relief of an all-natural Nettle plant, used by ancient Roman Gladiators to recover after battles. "Nettles are a super herb," explained David Gin, one of the developers of Gladiator Balm. "We used the plant used back in the day by the gladiators, and put it into an extract that's our secret ingredient that's organic and is the regulated size to carry on an airplane." Coming in a chap stick-looking tube, Gladiator Balm doesn't give off a smell like other products either. Simply apply it to the area you're aching, and the anti-inflammatory will increase blood flow, reduce swelling in muscles and help in joint pain relief. --Steve
Smart Body Golf Performance Pack ($199)
This super portable kit offers a great way to improve balance and the proper sequencing of the swing on the go. First made popular in 2005 with the Golf Swing Ball endorsed by Ernie Els, Smart Body Golf's Performance pack includes a pair of leverage discs for better balance and tempo as you swing, a cross-handle group of bands to improve shoulder turn and body rotation, and their Swing Ball Pro, which targets the core muscles to help rotational strength in the swing. Lightweight and easy to transport, it's great for a quick five-minute warm up before your round, or to take with you on a business trip. --Steve
Ashley Mayo is an associate editor at Golf Digest.
Steve Hennessey is an assistant editor at Golf Digest.
By Ron Kaspriske
Picture two boxers. One is a mountain of a man. All muscle. Tall, too. The other is muscular, but much smaller in stature. He looks fit, but you can't help but fear for his life as he steps into the ring. Then the bell goes off. The two meet in the middle and the mountain doesn't waste any time. He winds up his right fist, getting ready to deliver a crushing blow to his smaller opponent. But before he can swing, the smaller fighter reels off three fast, but powerful punches and down goes the big guy.
What just happened? The big guy had all the strength in the world but didn't have the pliability to use that strength to his advantage. And while the little guy didn't have nearly the amount of strength as his opponent, he did have the capability to effectively use what strength he possessed. That's the difference between strength and power--and golfers need both.
You need strength to stabilize your body when you swing. Otherwise, you'd fall off balance often and leave your frame susceptible to injury. But you also need power to deliver the club with enough energy to launch it off the tee, or cut through a swath of sand, or escape deep rough.
Your body has more than one type of muscle fiber. Some contract and expand faster than others. Just look at the lower bodies of sprinters and compare them to marathon runners. If all you ever do is train slow-twitch muscles, as many distance runners do, you'll never be able to explode out of the blocks the way a sprinter can.
So when you hit the gym, you should be thinking in terms of strength training and power training, says Golf Digest fitness advisor Randy Myers, who works with several PGA Tour players. Myers spoke to me about this topic and offered up six exercises that help develop strength and power in our February issue (Read: Fitness: Strength vs. Power).
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(Illustration by Christian Northeast)
Let's be clear. Dustin Johnson can kill it off the tee mostly because he's a freak of nature. Great athleticism; great combination of strength and flexibility; and great hand-eye coordination. If you saw him win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this past Tuesday, routinely hitting drives longer than 350 yards (some went more than 400 yards), you know he's in an elite class of athletes.
Related: Top 10 Athletes on Tour But there's one more key ingredient to his power game that you can emulate. Dustin gets in the gym and busts his tail to get stronger, more pliable and definitely more explosive. I spoke with one of his trainers Chris Noss (@coachnoss) about Dustin's workout routine. Noss said when Dustin is working with him or his other trainer Joey Diovisalvi (@coachjoeyd), he routinely works on his explosiveness and the kinematic sequence of his golfswing by doing a series of exercises that really enhance his move through the ball. In addition to doing things like Olympic lifts, Johnson often uses medicine balls to help gain power and muscle coordination.
To see Noss demonstrate one of Johnson's key exercises, click on the video below.
Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest
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(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
I'll admit it. There are times when I walk straight out to the first tee, peg a ball, and swing away without even thinking of warming up my body. I tell myself that it's no big deal since I work out five to seven times a week and my body can handle the rigors of one round without prepping my muscles. That's actually true. For one round; or maybe 10; or even an entire season of golf, you can get away without warming up before you play.
But mark my words. Sooner or later, there will come a day when you take a rip at a ball in deep rough or try to blast one out of a bunker and you're going to hear a pop/rip/insert bad sound here noise. Injury is inevitable if you don't warm up your muscles before an activity like golf. That's why I'm asking, once again, for you to consider adding a pre-round warm-up to your game plan.
I realize many of you don't want to devote another 15-30 minutes to an activity that already takes too long. I understand. There are movement-prep exercises such as the "World's Greatest Stretch" (click here for a video demonstration) that can help you prime your body for golf in as little as a few minutes.
Short warm-ups are far better than doing nothing. Earlier this week, I spoke with one of the most flexible players on the PGA Tour--Kyle Stanley--about his pre-round stretching routine. Stanley agrees that most people, including himself, aren't going to spend a whole lot of time warming up before a round. That's why he likes priming his muscles with exercises that hit several parts of the body at once.
Click on the video below to see Stanley demonstrate his favorite multi-purpose stretch. This movement primes the hamstrings, mid-back, hips and shoulders. Do this when you play and you'll at least fulfill one resolution this year.
Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest
Follow @Ron Kaspriske