Every year around this time you’ll see the onset of tradition in these parts. The plaid pants, sweater vests, single gloves, and bag filled with metal sticks all come out of storage. Yes. It is golf season! (Finally!)
The season seems to have fairly entrenched rituals as well:
- Pull clubs out and clean them until they are meticulous and you would be willing to use them to stir your coffee.
- Try on the golf clothes from last season… replace things that mysteriously shrunk in the off-season.
- Make an excuse to your significant other about having to run errand (i.e- get to the range for some practice)
- Buy a large bucket of balls and head out to the tees. Immediately pull out the driver and hit half the bucket of balls, followed by working on your irons a little bit for the heck of it. Total time at the range 1 hour to hit 50-100 balls. (Get home carrying in a carton of milk to show that you indeed ran some errands).
- Wake the next morning feeling like a train hit you at some point during the night. Cancel the round you scheduled for the afternoon.
- Call you Chiropractor to see if they can “squeeze you in”.
Does this sound familiar?
I’m sure it does to many. Many folks that should know better too (even health professionals!). So, what are the main mistakes here? Clean clubs?… no.. that’s just a must if you put them away with a clump of dirt on them from the fall. What a lot of recreational golfers fail to realize is that they become “de-conditioned” over the off-season and try to get back into things too quickly. In the above example, the golfer clearly enjoyed themselves in the off-season and put on a few pounds. They then decided to start out by hitting a rounds worth of shots in under an hour, without moving from the spot where they dumped out the bucket of balls. Also, hitting their long clubs right off the bat will instantly add more stress to the system already overburdened. (side note: a wise golf pro once told me that practicing excessively with the driver is a poor use of practice time as you will use the driver at most 14 times during the round; assuming there are 4 par three’.) What you’re feeling the next day is essentially the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and is due to the lack of conditioning for the sport over the off-season.
So what SHOULD we be doing?
The right answer is a combination of many different aspects for the majority of people. First of all, in any sport (curling, tennis, etc.) you should try to stay active during the off-season where possible. Using indoor facilities or simply staying active in a workout regimen. Very few of us are professionals in our pass-time, but we should try to at least follow their lead when it comes to training. Start out the season slowly (heck… was the clubs as many times as you want!). If you’re going to the practice range, start by doing some light stretches for mobility. Then do less taxing movements, like putting and chipping (your game will thank you!) before hitting the bucket of balls. Start by doing less, get the small bucket of balls, use your mid range irons first, then start to experiment. Hit the balls slowly, it’s not a race to see if you finish in a new record time. Try to keep moving; instead of simply standing on the mat and reloading over and over again, by walking over over to the club washing bucket between every few shots or flip the club over and swing as though you are the opposite hand.
In the end of the day, this is for fun (… maybe to win $5 or a beer off of a friend too) but remember that tomorrow will be affected by what you do today.
Be nice to your body (especially that whole spine thing…) it’s pretty important for the rest of your life!
Try to keep it on the short grass!
Dr. Matt Lindsay
Aligned Chiropractic, Burlington-ON