Spring is Here. Get Outside!

Golf SwingWoman GardeningAre you ready for Spring?

For many older adults, spring means two things: Golf and Gardening!

Over the winter months, you may have been quite inactive and remained indoors and out of the cold. Now that spring is here, the days are getting longer and warmer, it’s time to get outside, whether that is on the golf course or in the garden.

Both these activities will help you stay fit. But before you hit the golf course or start crouching in the garden, you should prepare. Both activities use muscles that may have become weak over the long winter. You’ll want to enjoy your first day on the green or in the green without feeling sore afterwards. Here are some exercises you can do now to prepare.

For Golf:

1. Golf-swing acceleration

  • Secure a resistance band to a stationary object at shoulder level.
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart in golf stance, holding onto the other end of band in the “take-back” position.
  • From here, inhale and as you exhale, pull your hands against the band’s resistance to the “contact” position, as if striking the ball.
  • Inhale as you slowly return.
  • Perform 10-15 of these using a light or medium resistance band, at least 5 feet long.

2. Take-back with resistance

  • Stand on the middle of a long resistance band (8 feet) and hold ends together with both hands.
  • Inhale and as you exhale, go into the “take-back” position with feet wide apart and band stretched between them.
  • With the hands back in the “take-back” position against resistance, the band should look like a right-angle triangle.
  • Inhale on return.
  • Perform 10-15 of these with light to medium resistance.

The following exercises are also good to do as basic exercises to strengthen the muscles used by golfers:

3. Squats

These can be done against a wall, with or without a ball, or as free squats, using dumbbells for resistance.

Basic Technique for a Wall Squat

  • Stand with back against the wall. If your wall is rough (e.g. flat paint), you may want to use a small (8 inch) ball placed between your back and the wall, just above the buttocks.
  • Step out about 1 1/2 times the length of your feet and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Inhale as you slide down the wall, keep your back against the wall or straight up and down if using a ball.
  • Stop when your thighs are at right angles to your calves or sooner if you have any knee pain.
  • Ensure that your knees do not go past your toes. Keep your weight on the heels.
  • Exhale and straighten back up, pushing your buttocks and knees back towards the wall.
  • Do 8-12 or until you begin to feel a “burning” or fatigue in the front of thighs.

4. Wrist extension/flexion

These can be done with dumbbells or a resistance band.

  • Sit with the right forearm crossed over the right thigh, wrist unsupported by knee or thigh.
  • Hold a light dumbbell in the hand with palm facing upward or secure a resistance band around the hand, ends held taut under the foot.
  • Inhale as you lower the wrist towards the floor, exhale as you curl it upward, bending the wrist upward, to exercise the wrist flexors.
  • Do 10-15 repetitions with light to medium resistance, then switch sides.
  • Perform the same exercise but with the arm rotated so that palm is facing downward to strengthen the wrist extensors.

5. Rotator cuff (shoulder rotations)

External Rotation

  • Stand with arms down at your side, holding one end of a resistance band or tubing in your hand.
  • Secure the other end of the band across your body to a stationary object at waist level.
  • Keep elbow of exercising arm at your side but bent at 90 degrees, palm facing up, forearm parallel to floor but pressed against your stomach.
  • Inhale and as you exhale, externally rotate the shoulder, moving the hand in an arc motion from against your stomach to a position out from the body, forearm still parallel to the floor (thus away from the resistance).
  • Inhale on return.
  • Do 10-15 repetitions with light resistance.
  • Repeat on other side.

Internal Rotation

  • Stand holding the band in one hand with upper arm against your side, elbow bent at 90 degrees, forearm externally rotated out past your side at waist level, palm facing up.
  • Secure the other end of the band beyond the side of the exercising arm so that it is taut.
  • Inhale and as you exhale, internally rotate the shoulder so that forearm moves in an arc away from the resistance and toward your body, ending with forearm pressed across your stomach.
  • Inhale on return.
  • Do 10-15 repetitions with light resistance.
  • Repeat on other side.

6. Hip Rotation

  • Stand sideways to a chair or other stationary object, holding onto it with the inside hand.
  • Bend knee of outside leg to 90 degrees.
  • Internally and externally rotate the hip so that the thigh, which is parallel to floor, moves in an arc fashion with foot coming close to the wall and then outward away from wall.
  • For more resistance, use an 2-3 lb. ankle weight or secure a resistance band away from your body for internal rotation and by the wall for external rotation.
  • Do 10-15 repetitions with light resistance.

7. Stretches for Golf

Golfers should make sure they stretch the muscles they used for the resistance exercises or after they’ve gone out for a round of golf. It is particularly important to stretch the mid back area since it is most used in the golf swing. A good mid-back stretch is to stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands together in front and fingers interlaced. Bend slightly at the knees. Inhale and as you exhale, turn palms outward and extend arms out in front. Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds but keep breathing. Keep your head bowed, with chin tucked back so as not to strain the neck.

I also recommend doing a thigh stretch, followed by hamstring and buttock stretches to stretch out the muscles strengthened by the squats exercise.

To stretch the front of thigh, stand and bend right knee. Holding onto a stationary object with your left hand, reach your right hand around to hold onto your right calf, ankle, or pant leg. Point the right knee toward the floor, while keeping the two knees in line with each other. Stand up straight throughout the stretch and hold for 15-20 seconds. Remember to breathe throughout the stretch. Switch sides and repeat on other side.

To stretch the back of thigh (hamstrings) and the buttocks muscles, lay down on the floor on your back, preferably on a soft mat and cross the left leg over the right thigh. Loop the left hand between the thighs, loop the right hand around the right thigh and clasp the hands together, bringing the thighs up to the chest. To stretch the hamstrings, keep the uncrossed leg straight, while holding the thighs toward the chest.

To stretch opposite buttocks muscle, bend the knee of the uncrossed leg so that it is at 90 degrees. Hold both stretches for 15-20 seconds. Repeat on other side. Remember to breathe throughout the stretch.

For Gardening:

Exercises that will help prepare you for gardening are those which target the mid-back, biceps, and triceps for the lifting, carrying, and digging and the thighs and buttocks for kneeling and crouching.

1. Squats See the description above for this exercise.

2. Seated row with resistance band

  • Sit at the edge of a chair, knees slightly bent, heels touching floor and toes pointed up so that the thighs are a little lower than the hips.
  • Place a resistance band across the bottom of both feet, toward the tops of the feet and hold an end in each hand.
  • Sit up straight, hold the band taut.
  • Inhale and as you exhale, pull the ends of the band along your thighs from the knees toward the hips by squeezing the shoulder blades together.
  • Do this slowly to a count of 3.
  • Do not lean back or shrug your shoulders.
  • Inhale as you return to starting position. Do this slowly to a count of 3.
  • Do 10-15 of these with medium of resistance.

3. Triceps Press-down with resistance band

  • Grip the middle of a medium resistance band with your left hand, leaving both ends dangling.
  • Make a fist with this hand and hold it against the middle of the top of your chest, flipping the top part of the band over your shoulder.
  • Grip the lower half of the band with your right hand, about 4 to 6 inches below the right fist.
  • Hold your right hand out from your stomach.
  • Check that both your upper arms are held diagonally out from your sides and elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  • With your left hand stable, inhale first, then exhale while moving your right hand downward and outward in an arc motion toward your right hip (count of 3).
  • Finish with your right arm fully extended and hand held out from your right thigh.
  • Slowly return your right hand to the starting position as you inhale (count of 3).
  • Repeat 8-10 times then switch to right hand at chest and right hand below.

4. Biceps Curls

  • Stand on the middle of a resistance band (at least 6 feet length).
  • Gather one end of the band in each hand, holding it taut with arms against side of your body, palms facing forward.
  • Keeping your elbow pressed against your side, bend your elbows and bring your hands about 3/4 of the way to your shoulders, while exhaling (count of 4).
  • Slowly lower your arms to starting position, while inhaling (count of 4).
  • Do 8-12 repetitions using medium resistance.

5. Stretches for Gardening

Stretch the muscles that you worked during the resistance exercises and also stretch the back of the calves. I also recommend doing a course of stretching after you have been out working in the garden.

To stretch out your biceps and triceps, stand with arms behind your back and fingers interlaced. Extend your arms up and out away from your body, while keeping the head down.

To stretch the back of calves, stand up straight with one foot out in front, the other behind, in a long stride. Put a bend in the front knee and reach your arms in front, preferably against a wall or stationary object. Lean into the stretch, trying to keep your back heel on the floor. After about 15 seconds, put a slight bend in the back knee, while still keeping the foot on the floor. Hold for an additional 10 seconds and switch sides. Always breathe during your stretches.

Enjoy your spring, whether you’re on the green with your golf clubs or in the back yard with your green thumb!

To your health,

Chris