warm up golf
Although warming up is widely promoted as an important measure to enhance performance and prevent injury in both amateur and professional golfing, there has been no scientific proof to date that it works.
But that has all changed with the publication of the first controlled study to investigate the effects of a golf-specific warm-up and conditioning programme on club head speeds in amateur golfers, which has demonstrated significant benefits.
Twenty male golfers were matched in pairs for age and handicap, with one of each pair randomly placed in either an exercise or control group.
The exercise group completed a golf-specific warm-up routine and conditioning programme 4- 5 times per week for five weeks, while the control group simply adhered to their normal practice routines.
Club head speed of 10 practice strokes, assessed by two dimensional video analysis in a laboratory setting at the outset of the study, was rechecked one week later and then again seven weeks later.
Key findings were as follows:
- Between weeks 1 and 2, golfers in the exercise group improved their club head speed by 3-6 metres per second by performing the warm-up immediately prior to their 10 strokes. This 12.8% increase in speed equated to a decreased handicap of approximately four shots;
- Between weeks 1 and 7, golfers in the exercise group improved their club head speed by 7- 10m/s by performing the warm-up programme prior to the 10 strokes, having performed it 4-5 times a week for five weeks. This equated to a decrease in handicap of approximately seven shots;
- By contrast, golfers in the control group did not significantly improve their club head speed over the seven-week period. With the exception of one outlying participant, whose mean club head speeds varied by about 1.7m/s (but not in a progressive manner), mean club head speeds did not vary by more than 0.8m/s over the three testing periods.
‘While practice is essential for perfecting the golf swing,’ conclude the researchers, ‘data from this study suggests that sport specific conditioning is also valuable… This study has shown that by warming up immediately prior to play performance is significantly improved, and by performing it 4-5 times a week for five weeks, performance is even further improved.’
The next logical step, they suggest, is to evaluate the benefits of a warm-up in terms of injury prevention.
Br J Sports Med 2004; 38:762-765
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