As a Baby Boomer, your are likely (hopefully) entering an age where you have more money and time to spend on golf. The kids are likely beginning their own lives and it is about the time you are embarking on a "new life" of your own. Enjoying yourself on the golf course should be a part of that plan. However, you might be noticing that your golf game is changing, and probably not for the best. The good news is that you have a lot of control over your golf game in the coming years (unlike the lives or your children). One of the top issues limiting senior golfers, golfers over 50, is the loss of back and shoulder turn in the golf swing. Not only does this effect distance, but accuracy, consistency and how much you still enjoy the game. However, you are still young and have a lot of control over your golf body and how it performs. I will briefly describe the cause of these difficulties and we will get right down to what you can do about it. Yes, you can do something about it!
Muscle Stiffness In Golf
As we age, even at a relatively young age, we begin to lose the suppleness and flexibility of our muscles and tendons. If you are a top level athlete, you will feel this change in your 30's. However, if you are a casual athlete, these changes may not become as apparent until you pass the age of 50. The old adage is true: "if you don't use it, you lose it." And in our daily lives, we rarely rotate our torso to the degree needed to maintain our golf shoulder turn. So we gradually lose it.
Spine Mobility in Golf
In addition to muscle and tendons, our spinal joints can become stiffer as well. Let's say you own a bicycle. You ride it for a while but then you forget about it...for a couple of years. Chances are when you try and ride the bike again, the gears may be rusty and stiff. This is similar to the joints in your spine. However, if you ride this bike frequently, the gears stay lubricated and move well...as is true with your spinal joints. For these 2 reasons, baby boomer golfers tend to lose their shoulder turn and that can have big consequences in your game. Not only for power, but for rhythm and timing as well.
Improve Your Shoulder Turn
For maximum results, it is important to use both static hold stretches and dynamic stretches/movements.
1. Passive Golf Stretch: Torso Rotations
This "pretzel" stretch does a very good job of separating your upper and lower body rotation. Not only will it improve your turn, but will improve your torque power as you come back to the impact position.
Setup: Begin by lying on your side.
Golf Action: Bend your top leg up to waist height. Next, rotate your top arm and torso to the opposite direction. You can increase this stretch by using the opposite hand to pull the knee closer to the floor.
Exercise Parameters: Hold stretch for 30 seconds and repeat to the opposite direction. If you are very restricted, you should do this stretch 5-6 times daily!
2. Torso Rotation in Chair
Hold for 30 seconds. Why it is Great Torso rotation stretches in sitting are so much better than in standing because when you are sitting in a chair your hips are fixed. With your hips fixed, you are able to isolate the spinal motion necessary for a great golf turn.
3. Dynamic Golf Stretch: Active Rotations
Setup: Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and straighten your arms out to your sides. Get into your correct golf stance – knees bent, hinging forward at the waist and back flat. (Avoid hyperextension of the knees).
Golf Action: Rotate and bend forward so that one of your hands is pointing to the ground directly in front of you. Your other hand should be pointing toward the ceiling above you. Now, return to your starting position and perform the exercise to the opposite direction.
Parameters: Perform 10 repetitions to both directions. Key to Success: Focus on bending forward at the hips and do not let your back round or curve.
4. Dynamic Golf Stretch
Setup: You will need a small weight to hold in your hand (soup can will work).
Golf Action: Take a backwards diagonal lunge step while rotating your body around your leg so that the ball(or hand weight) is on the opposite side of your lunging leg (the more rotation the better). From this position, push up powerfully and rotate back around to the starting position.
Exercise Parameters: Perform 8 repetitions to each side. The key with this exercise is to start slowly and safely. As you warm up and are more comfortable with the movement and balance, the faster you want to go. Baby boomers around the country are losing their shoulder turn. You can do something about it.
Work on these stretches to keep your golf game young and vibrant for years to come!
Thanks for reading.
Related this next: 3 Shoulder Stretches for a Better Golf Game
Dr. Ryan York is a physical therapist and since 2008 has been working exclusively with golfers between the ages of 50 and 75. He co-directs Age Defying Golf, which is dedicated to improving golf performance, reducing the effects of aging, and resolving golf-related pain in golfers .