In this series of five articles, I will be offering guidelines for golf-specific physical activity aimed at five different golfing demographics:
This article, the last in my five-part series, focuses on the backbone of the golfing population: seniors.
The main difference between a younger club golfer and a senior golfer from a lifestyle point of view is that the latter normally has a lot more time to play and practice, which is definitely a positive. It also gives them more time to repeat and ingrain poor movements that are less than ideal, however. When combined with the following physical limitations that normally affect seniors, I’ve seen many of their games go into a decline despite having extra time to practice and play.
Most senior golfers face challenges in the following areas:
- Reduction in mobility: Joints become stiffer and muscles become shorter.
- Muscle atrophy: Less testosterone in the body leads to a wasting of muscle tissue.
- Reduction in bone density: Bone diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis lead to increased fragility in the skeletal system.
So what do we prescribe in order to help with these typical issues?
When I train senior golfers, I usually prescribe a combination of spiky ball drills and dynamic stretching that target the following muscles: pectorals, hip flexors, glutes and erector spinae. What I call “soft stretching activities” such as yoga can be extremely beneficial for senior golfers, too.
Here is a mini program for gently increasing hip mobility.
Muscle Atrophy and Bone Density Reduction
These two issues can both be targeted with the same approach: lifting weights. Contrary to popular belief, strength training is neither dangerous nor detrimental for people of advancing age if done properly. In senior citizens, it has been proven to actually stimulate bone re-growth and significantly reduce the rate of muscular atrophy or wastage.
The best type of strength training is closed-chain, load-bearing exercises such as squats, lunges and push-ups. When injury or lack of mobility restricts the participant from making big movements, however, then open-chain, seated exercises such as seated row, chest/shoulder press and leg press will also help.
Poor Movement Patterns
What about those swing faults that just seem to be so deeply ingrained that there is no hope of changing? To start, increased strength and mobility will make it easier to get the body and the club head into a new position. To help break down old movement patterns and learn new ones, we prescribe activation and movement drills that “switch on” the correct muscles and mimic the movement that we want them to make in the golf swing. This is generally done using the Ramsay Posture Belt, among other posture and movement training aids.
Here’s a basic set of exercises than help to promote better posture and begin the journey towards more dynamic rotation.
We also encourage the player to hit a few less balls and do a few more drills, thereby practicing less of the old movement and more of the new one. A 5-1 ball-to-drill ratio is recommended, forcing the player to stop after five shots and practice the new movement pattern, in context, right there in the practice area.