You’ve just come off the 18th green after trekking around the course for 4 hours, lugging or pushing your golf bag up and down hills. You b-line it for the 19th hole for a little post-round libation courtesy of your favorite bar keep at the course. After a drink (or two) and some trash talk with your playing partners, you head home to relax and take a soothing nap to the voice of Jim Nantz as he announces this week’s PGA event. You peel yourself off the couch to make a snack and quickly realize you feel like CRAP. Your legs, butt, lower back, and shoulders are sore and stiff and you contemplate whether or not you want to remain vertical or just let gravity assist you to sink back into the couch.
So what can you do to prevent this feeling in the first place and to feel better after a long round of golf? I have 5 basic tips that I believe will help your post-round recovery and are easy to implement into your routine.
1. Drink Water
Hopefully you have a nice sunny and warm day to hit the links with your friends. Whether walking or riding, it is important to stay hydrated for a few
reasons. Dehydration occurs when more water is leaving the body than is entering the body (duh). Symptoms of mild dehydration include lethargy, dry mouth, muscle weakness, and dizziness while severe dehydration can cause fever, increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and delirium. All things we want to avoid on the course.
The recommended water intake is ½ body weight in ounces of water. So, for a 200 pound male, that means 100 ounces of water per day. This number should increase if it is exceedingly hot out and/or if you a prone to sweating a lot. It is important to begin consuming water at least 2 hours prior to activity. Here is a good hypothetical schedule recommendation from TPI for a hydration plan for a 10am golf round:
8 am: Wake up
8-10 am: consume 15-20% of daily water
10 am: Tee off, during round try to consume 40-50% of water intake
- TIP: try to drink 12-14 oz every 6 holes (42-54 oz total)After round: continue to drink the remaining 30-45% over the course of the day.
2. Foam rolling
Even though we may not know what foam rolling does exactly, I can say that it helps our clients feel better and ultimately move better. In a study by Cheatham et al, “foam roll or roller massager appears to have short‐term effects on increasing joint ROM without negatively affecting muscle performance and may help attenuate decrements in muscle performance and DOMS after intense exercise.” Basically, foam rolling can help to decrease some muscle soreness after activity. It’s easy and safe to do so regardless if you don’t know exactly how it works, I recommend foam rolling after a round to feel better.
Target areas that tend to get stiff or sore after your round: calves, glutes, quads, upper back, and lower back. Try to spend 3-5 minutes of gentle foam rolling on these areas in total.
**For more information on foam rolling, refer to my article “Self-Myofascial Release Tips for Golfers”
3. Deep breathing/relaxation drills
Activation of our parasympathetic nervous system to achieve muscle relaxation and decreased muscle tone through positional diaphragmatic breathing is a tactic I like to use, especially after golfing. Golf can be a mentally and physically stressful game, so building in some physical and mental recovery time post-round is paramount.
The golf swing is a repetitive extension-based activity and golfers with suboptimal mechanics typically experience more extension, particularly through the lumbar spine, than more mechanically sound golfers. The ability to change position and introduce some flexion after a round is an important concept. I like these:
- Modified Child’s Pose
- Deep Squat Lat Mobilizations
- 90/90 Deep Breathing
4. Gentle mobility drills
The goal of these drills is to change positions with minimal load through the body and restore range of motion and mobility to areas that get tight or restricted after many golf swings. These exercises should be gentle and comfortable and help with prevention of getting too sore and stiff. Try these:
- Side-lying Thoracic Rotations
- Quadruped Rock Backs
5. Light cardiovascular exercise
There is still some debate on whether light-intensity cardiovascular exercise can decrease the effects of DOMS immediately after intense exercise. Light cardiovascular exercise can modestly increase heart rate, theoretically increasing blood flow to muscles and removing metabolic waste products. I recommend keeping post-round aerobic activity to an intensity of 3-5/10.
Bike, elliptical, or rowing machine for 5-10 minutes.
Give some of these strategies a try before, during, and after your next round of golf. Hopefully you can avoid feeling sore, stiff, and not wanting to move after your round.
“Golf is a good walk spoiled”- Mark Twain