More injuries will occur on the course these next couple of months than the rest of the season. The weather is starting to get nice. You have the itch. But you have not swung a club in the past five or six months.
I’m not telling you this to scare you. I want to show you how these injuries can be avoided with a few simple steps.
Step 1: Never tee up without a proper warm up.
Would you run a 5k, pitch a baseball or play tennis without warming up? Then why is it OK to play a round of golf without the proper warm up?
Think about how many major muscles are involved in the golf swing. Shoulders, abdominals, lower back and legs, just to name a few. That’s a lot of places that could get injured if you don’t warm them up properly.
To reduce your risk of injury, arrive at the course about 45 minutes before you are scheduled to play and go to the driving range. Hit a bucket of balls, practice chipping and putting and make sure to stretch your shoulders, back and leg muscles.
Step 2: Bend at the knees.
How many times do you bend over to tee up and pick up balls during a round of 18 holes? If I had to guess, I would say around 150 times minimum. If you play like I do, it might even be around 300.
That’s a lot of strain on the lower back, especially if you’re not bending at the knees. A lower back injury can be pretty painful and take you off the course for the season.
If you need a funny reminder to make sure you’re protecting your back, think of the Snoop Dogg song, “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” every time you need to pick up your ball. It sounds silly, but it will save your back.
Also, include some lower back exercises — like bird dogs and cobras – during your regular workout routine.
Step 3: Stay hydrated.
If you are like me when you play, you like to have a few drinks. It takes the edge off, and you can relax and not think about your awful backswing.
The problem arises when you’ve had one too many.
Now you think you are Happy Gilmore trying to hit your drive 450 yards. You swing a little harder and forget everything the pro taught you in those lessons.
The result: you wind up hurting your shoulder, back or knees – from falling to the ground when you missed the ball. (Yes, I have done this.)
This is not the way to end your golf season. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water on the course if you indulge in a few adult beverages. Not only is it great for hydration on a hot day, but it might save you from making a fool of yourself in front of potential customers.
Next time you plan to tee it up just remember these three important rules: warm up, bend at the knees and drink water. They may not make you play like Rory
Mcllroy, but at least you will be able to play another round next weekend.
Nic DeCaire is a 2014 DBT40 honoree and the owner of Fusion Fitness in Newark.