*Editor's note: Every week my colleague Ron Kaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. He gives you a health and fitness tip or an exercise or stretch to get your body warmed up for the weekend. This week he shows you how to recover faster from pain and soreness by administering self-massage. Sounds good to me. Look for Saturday Morning Tip tomorrow, and remember to follow me on Twitter: @RogerSchiffman *
Here's Ron: I recently visited with PGA Tour strength trainer Ben Shear at his terrific gym in Scotch Plains, N.J. Shear trains, among others, world No. 1 Luke Donald and Jason Day. The topic of massage came up, and I asked him how often he recommends average golfers get one. "As much as possible," he says. "Even if you're not sore. When you're not flexing, a muscle should be soft to the touch. But most people I see are so knotted up, their muscles feel like they are flexing even when they aren't."
Muscles go into spasm from overuse, adds top fitness trainer Mark Verstegen. "They've been worked too hard. Especially when you consider golf consists of dynamic, ballistic movements performed over a five-hour period. That results in tiny tears and spasms in the muscle. They're like putting knots in a rubber band. Your goal is to get rid of those knots."
The reality is that few people can afford to see a physical therapist or masseuse multiple times each week, but you can do it yourself. Manual tissue therapy, also known as "self-massage," "muscle regeneration" or "foam-rolling," is a huge factor in speeding up the recovery process from soreness and spasms and making your muscles more pliable.
Verstegen suggests getting a foam roller ($15-$20) to perform the most basic techniques.
"Compression by moving back and forth on a foam roller over-stimulates the nerves, signaling the muscle spasm to shut off," he says. "This allows the muscle to relax and gets the blood and lymphatic system flowing and helps restore healthy muscle tissue."
Consider doing self-massage at least a few times a week, either as part of your workout, or when you're at home relaxing, watching TV, etc. For demonstrations on self-massage techniques that appear in Golf Digest's October issue, click the link here.
Golf Digest *