Hello! My name is Scott Shepard and I am a trainer and physical therapist for golfers. I have been working specifically with golfers for the past 5 years of my practice including top players from the LPGA, Junior Golf, Nationwide Tour, Hooters Tour, and other competitive and recreational golfers. In light of the recent explosion of golf specific fitness, I would like to comment on my personal beliefs on training golfers.
Golf, like all sports, requires a certain amount of physical skill to allow for optimum performance. Golf, unlike many sports, can be played and enjoyed for a lifetime. With that being stated, I feel that training golfers is similar to training other sports in the sense that your workouts need to focus on increasing overall muscular flexibility/joint mobility, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, core stability, balance, and explosive power capability.
However, golf training is unique in the sense that we have to focus more on long term health than we do on short term gains. Let’s face it, football players only play into their late 30’s/early 40’s if they are lucky or cheating or Brett Favre. Obviously, the physical contact of the sport is the main factor for this body breakdown, however many of the physical training methods add to this deterioration.
Recently, top athletic training centers have recognized this and are focusing on spending more time working on recovery methods and mobilization exercises that actually allow the body to heal after intense workouts and prolonged sports practice. Basically it’s working out in a way that allows you to play and practice longer and with less chance of injury. I believe strongly in this recovery training and I make sure that all of my clients are incorporating these methods into their program.
The concept goes far beyond the few minutes of stretches you usually do after your workouts. In order to really improve mobility you have to stretch the soft tissues (muscles, tendons) but you also have breakdown any adhesions in these structures. Adhesions occur when you have prolonged stress to structures. Most people have these “knots” somewhere in their body, usually around the shoulders and neck region. Whether you play golf, football, or work in a factory, your body does not respond well to any prolonged stressful positions. Some methods to reduce these adhesions include using foam rollers, massage sticks, pressure relief tools, and having professional manual therapy treatments.
An easy way to get started is to use a foam roller which is a dense Styrofoam roll that provides deep self massage to muscles when you roll your body over the foam. Initially it can be quite painful, but as you work on it over time your muscles really loosen up and you are able to relax further. This can actually help break up those adhesed areas and allow you to get more out of your stretching routine. Check the photos of one of my clients working his middle back and lateral hip muscles. Foam rollers are becoming more available locally, but I buy mine from PerformBetter.com, they have everything for fitness.
I have always liked the quote that states, “would you rather train for an apparent change or a lasting change”. Only by addressing the imbalances and stressors present in the body can we truly allow for lasting change to occur. So if we can spend some time getting to know our foam rollers it will help us all to continue playing this game at a high level throughout the “golf span”, which by the way is much more important than the “life span”.
Scott Shepard MSPT, CSCS, TPI
Scott Shepard is based in Central Florida and has an office in Lake Mary, FL. For more information on Scott and his golf specific fitness and injury rehabilitation programs please visit www.planeperformance.com or contact him at 407-222-7489.