You might say that flexibility is the step-child of fitness. While it is one of the three basic fitness components, it is overlooked by recreational and competitive athletes alike. Most club members do not have to be convinced of the importance of strength training or cardiovascular exercise, but many must continually be reminded of the need to stretch their muscles before and after exercise.
For this reason, the Health and Racquet Club at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Saratoga Springs, Fla., invented a way to help golfers, who make up a large portion of its clientele, use stretching to improve their sports performance and reduce their risk of injury. The club’s Golf Cart Stretching program offers enthusiasts a series of simple stretches that can be done right on the links with the aid of a golf cart.
Exercises include a low-back stretch, squat to strengthen the hamstrings and calves, middle-back and hamstring stretch, front and rear shoulder stretch, and lunge to build power in the swing. “Until recently, most golfers did little but complain about their tight muscles,” says Randy Myers, PGA fitness director. “With the development of this new program, stiff muscles can be stretched right on the golf course.” Adding greater versatility to the program, the stretches can also be performed in the gym.
While stretching and flexibility is important for any sport, Myers says it is particularly important for golf since the back and shoulder can be stressed easily during the swing.
“Recent studies indicate that nearly 45 percent of all golfers will experience some form of injury,” Myers says, adding that back and shoulder injuries make up more than 80 percent of all golf-related injuries.
Since implementing the program in October of 1994, Myers says the club has seen a rise in participation among members who ordinarily don’t stick to an exercise program. “By providing a non-threatening fitness program for golfers, many individuals who may have feared exercise are now working out on a regular basis,” he says. Within one year, more than 1,000 individuals took advantage of the basic stretching program.