The Best Golf Exercises for Seniors
Golf is a very involved sport that uses almost every part of the body. It blends balance, flexibility and strength into one concise swing that you attempt to replicate throughout nine or eighteen holes. Luckily, golf is also low-impact and doesn’t cause as much wear and tear on the body as in sports like football or basketball. This makes it an ideal sport for seniors looking to play well into their seventies and even eighties.
However, it’s vital to prevent strain and decrease the risk of injury to extend the longevity of your game.
Why Are Golf Exercises Important?
Golf warm-up exercises can sometimes seem tedious and inconsequential. Some days you might want to hop on a golf cart and drive to the first tee, neglecting any stretches or strength workouts. But as you grow older, you may find that some parts of your game are lacking, or there are areas of your body that start to ache more than usual. This is where the importance of golf exercises can be essential.
Warming up your muscles can help better prepare you for a round of golf. Exercises can fine-tune your swing and also make you limber, stronger and more balanced. This will guard your body against natural wear and tear and also improve your game. With the correct exercise techniques and some simple workouts, you can continue to play golf at a high level and well into the future.
Areas to Target for Golf Exercises
The game of golf involves various parts of the body, starting at your feet. An effective golf swing relies on the balance in your heels, toes and ankles. Your legs should be solid and stable, as they will be crucial to overall movement and keeping you set in your stance. Your core becomes involved as you rotate into a backswing. Strength in your arms and shoulders will dictate swing speed and give you the power to pull your club forward through the ball.
All of this happens within seconds (depending on your swing speed), but in just that short time, you can see that the swing of the club is very intricate and involved. This complexity is why it’s important to target many different areas of the body for golf exercises.
Feet and Ankles
Your feet are the base of your swing; as you go through the motions, your weight shifts from one foot to the other.
Similar to a tree with roots, you should have a firm, stable base that starts at the very bottom and feeds up the body from there. Aside from a swing, you’ll probably be doing a lot of walking on the golf course. Even if you have a golf cart, you’ll still be walking to your ball and back again. Weak ankles can contribute to sprains or fractures, and without the ability to walk or stand, your golf game could be in jeopardy. A few effective ankle exercises can go a long way in preventing injury.
Your legs have to be sturdy to execute a skillful, reliable swing that can be replicated. A shaky base can alter your swing and send a shot flying in the wrong direction. Practicing strength in your legs will prepare you for long rounds and hundreds of swings.
For a wide range of motion and good mobility, your hips will have to be able to turn and shift. Exercises and stretching can improve strength and rotation in your hips, and it will set you up for success on the golf course.
Your core is the nucleus of a golf swing, dictating rotation and reach. It allows you to load up on power and contributes to your speed as you come through the ball. A proper golf swing often looks as though you are unwinding through the ball. You can create this smooth motion with a strong core, and it will also defend against other issues like lower back pain.
Arms and Shoulders
You can make a full, complete swing with adequate mobility in your arms and shoulders. Your arms must rotate back on an axis, reaching into an apex aligned with your shoulders before coming back and swinging through the ball, finishing high over the other side of your body. Though you can complete a swing with a shorter backswing, it’s better to have that full range of mobility to contribute to speed and power.
The sport of golf, in general, can be difficult on the back. The constant turning and twisting can cause soreness or pain, and a tender back can leave your golf game lacking and weakened. But if you can improve your flexibility and utilize different stretches, you can help prevent back strain and lessen the discomfort during rounds.
Types of Golf Exercises
There are many different types of golf exercises that you can utilize to improve your game and promote longevity. Golf covers a vast range of movements, so these exercises typically fall into four general categories:
- Strength: You’ll need strength in your arms, legs and core to complete a full golf swing. Proper strength will give you the necessary power and accuracy to play golf at a high level.
- Flexibility: A full range of motion promotes golf success. Mobility in your hips, arms and shoulders will give you the capacity to strike the ball with speed and power. Flexibility appears everywhere in golf, in something as simple as putting a tee in the ground to releasing a driver through a ball. Luckily, there are a lot of excellent golf flexibility exercises for seniors.
- Endurance: Though you might be driving in a golf cart rather than walking eighteen holes, golf is still a sport that relies heavily on endurance. You’ll be repeating a swing over and over again (hopefully not too many times) and expending power and speed with each stroke. If your endurance is poor, you might start to feel tired after a couple of holes. As you begin to get older, it’s crucial to pay attention to your endurance and improve it as much as you can. With improved endurance, you’ll be able to play better and defend against fatigue.
- Balance: Putting, short chips, wedges from a bunker and driving all have one thing in common: they demand great balance. It doesn’t matter the type of shot you’re hitting – if you’re off-balance while swinging, the chances are the ball will not go where you want it to. Improve your balance to improve your overall game.
Golf Exercises for Seniors
After identifying the benefits of golf exercises, targeting areas to stretch and knowing the various categories involved, you may be looking for ways to put this knowledge into action. These are some great golf exercises for seniors that you can put to use right away.
The side bend is one of the easiest exercises to do. You can do it on tee boxes, fairways and even putting greens. Take a club, raise it horizontally over your head and lean to the right or left, curving your torso slightly as you go. You should feel a stretch in your back. It’s a simple exercise that frees your body up from stiffness and prepares your body for mobility.
Lunge and Raise
Spread your feet to shoulder width and extend a club with both hands horizontally in front of you. Put one foot forward into a lunge position. It doesn’t have to be too far starting out – a small step will suffice, and you can extend farther it feels comfortable. From the lung position, raise the club slowly overheard with straightened arms. When you reach the apex, bring it back down to the horizontal position, take your lunged leg back in and repeat the process with the other leg extended.
Lunge and raise is a great exercise to improve balance and strengthen your legs, ankles and shoulders. It mimics the muscles used in a golf swing and will prepare you for a day on the course.
You’ll want to loosen your hamstrings before taking that first swing. For an effortless hamstring exercise, lay down on the ground. Bring one of your legs up to your chest and gently pull upwards just beneath the knee, raising it towards your chin. You could also try this standing – just lift one knee and pull upwards with both hands. The standing exercise gives you a great stretch and practices good balance, as well.
Bear Sit Stretch
The bear rotation is excellent for strengthening your hips and mirroring the rotating nature of a golf swing. It’s also very easy to do. Take a seat with your heels in the ground and your toes pointed upwards. Spread your feet about a shoulder-width apart, and then slowly bring your knees together, letting your hips do all the work. Release and let your knees fall back out, and then bring them back in. Repeat this for as long as you’d like.
Hip crossovers are another effective stretch for your hips that increases mobility. Lay down on your back with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and rotate across your body to one side. Make sure to keep your core right and try to remain stable the entire time. Being able to master this stretch will allow you to freely rotate in your golf swing, shifting weight from one side to the other.
One of the most fundamental golf stretching exercises for seniors is swing repetition. Swing repetition is great for endurance, and it doesn’t even have to involve a ball. Get a club and line up as though you were hitting, focusing on making a full, complete swing. Set your target point and follow through. Repeat this same swing as many times as you want. It will help you develop muscle memory for your swing and will also build up your strength.
You can instill a looser, more casual version of this exercise in a live golf round. While you’re waiting for someone else to tee off, move your body in the motion of your swing. You don’t have to focus on actual mechanics here – just concentrate on feeling the turn of your body and prepare yourself for the real swing.
The one-legged putting exercise is another practice that utilizes several areas and categories all at once. Grab your putter and line up for a putt from ten to fifteen feet. Get in your stance, and now lift one foot slightly off the ground. Follow through with the putt, pretending you’re hitting the ball. Try to stay as stable and as still as you can. After you’ve mastered the shorter putts, you can step further away and try out longer, bigger strokes from a distance.
One-legged putting is an excellent exercise because it focuses on balance, strengthening the ankles and stability. And when you go back to two feet, you’ll probably have better concentration.
You will probably remember this one from gym class in middle school. There’s a reason why it has stood the test of time. Lift your arms horizontally at your sides and make small, circular motions. Widen the circles until they become full, sweeping motions at your sides, and then bring them back into small circles.
Arm circles are great at warming up your arms and shoulders and getting you ready for a full, complete swing. Because of their simplicity, arm circles act as an ideal golf warm-up exercise for seniors.
Put one hand on the grip end of your driver and the other just in front of the head. Lift the driver and place it behind your neck. Plant your feet and turn your body on an axis, moving only your hips. Flex your core and stay focused on staying balanced, controlled and steady.
Often referred to as the windshield-wiper technique, this exercise is perfect for improving mobility in the ankles. Sit on a chair or bench and rotate your ankles in one direction, bring them back to the center and turn them to the other direction. You could also try calf raises by lifting your heels off the ground and standing on your toes for a second or two before dropping back down and repeating.
Your forearms are important parts of your swing, as you need them to be strong to deliver a powerful swing and avoid injury when you hit the ground. For a forearm stretch, hold your hand out in front of you with your palm facing outward. With your other hand, pull downwards on your palm until you feel a tightening in your forearm.
Colonial Golf and Tennis Club
Looking for a way to see how all these exercises can pay off? Colonial Golf and Tennis Club offers a beautiful eighteen-hole United States Golf Association (USGA) course. Our course covers a gorgeous landscape of rolling hills and 100-year-old trees.
Membership allows unlimited use of the practice facility, which features putting greens, a short game area to practice chipping, bunker practice and a driving range. You’ll also have access to complimentary handicap service, locker and baggage tags, a yearly cart pass, free golf lessons from PGA professionals and more. Become a member today and enjoy all of the fantastic amenities.