Panorama Training

How Golf keeps you healthy from head to toe – Breaking stereotypes

What is not written about fitness, which promotes our golf game, about what golf can do to us. The list of health benefits of golf is endless, the golf cosmos is full of medical treatises and gymnastic instructions. Who wouldn’t know that golf is a sport played primarily between the ears? The mental component affects the constitution. And vice versa. “Mens sana in corpore sano”, a healthy mind in a healthy body: this is mutually dependent.

Play golf longer, live longer

There are enough studies on this. The Swedes found that golfers who play regularly – about twice a week – live on average five years longer than non-golfers. The Karolinska Institute analysed the lifespan of around 300,000 active golfers who were born after 1920 and started playing golf before 2001. Ageing through play, in other words. Who doesn’t wish for a longer healthy life? You’re only one club away to achieve so.

“Moderate physical activity, such as golf, increases life expectancy,” says Dr Andrew Murray, head of the Golf & Health Project at the University of Edinburgh. The sport supports the prevention and treatment of more than 40 major chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer. It also helps with psychiatric conditions such as depression and dementia, and simply promotes health and well-being.

Playing one round of golf a week already adds to the quality of life in the long run. (Getty Images)

Care your mind. Golf is a mental sport

The reasons are as obvious as they are plausible. “Golf is a mental sport with aerobic and thus healthy exercise in the fresh air and in the green – and that for several hours. It doesn’t get any better than that,” says Hamburg preventologist Andrea S. Klahre, who, as a therapist for mind-body medicine and prevention coach, is professionally concerned with the coherence of body and mind.

For the therapist, the game is pure Zen beyond its “swing-technical, anatomical, physiological and also preventive aspects”. “Golf, played alone, is a kind of movement meditation and, like sitting meditation, changes the brain waves in centres that are responsible for attentional performance and the ability to cope with stress,” clarifies Klahre. “In addition, the autonomic nervous system is regulated, in the sense of a relaxation reaction.”

It is precisely this combination of flexibility, endurance and alertness that makes golf the ideal form of training for many existing ailments, from exhaustion syndromes to respiratory diseases. Or simply as a school for concentration, “as long as holistic health awareness can be promoted at the same time,” adds Klahre.

Training from head to toe – Complete sport

The key data of the time- and above all age-less game are well known, but cannot be repeated often enough: an 18-hole round burns at least 1,200 calories, five to ten kilocalories per minute. In contrast to other ball sports, such as football or tennis, golf burns mainly fats. This lowers blood fat levels, especially LDL cholesterol, which is harmful to the cardiovascular system. A skilful swing also tenses 124 of a total of 434 muscles. So training from head to toe.

A skilful full swing tenses 124 of a total of 434 muscles (Getty Images)

Golf is benefitial and this is why

Golf is a passion for many people. Some go to the range five times a week, others only twice a month – but all golfers have one thing in common: the fun of hitting the little white ball. Golf takes place in the fresh air, in nature. You move around a lot, you are often out for 4-5 hours. “Golf is good for your health,” some say. “Golf ruins your back,” say others.
What does golf actually do to our psyche? The series “Golf and Health” deals with these questions and statements and helps to get a better insight into the health of our beloved sport.

Change of mind – Golf is for healthy

When people think of golfers, they no longer think of overweight gentlemen with cigars in their mouths. The sport has become more athletic, thanks in part to Tiger Woods. Young junior golfers therefore train specifically and holistically – also to prevent injuries. The series “Golf and Health” deals, for example, with whether and how the modern golf swing is related to back problems. The amateur golfer also gains interesting insights, e.g. why golf is a health sport and offers the perfect relaxation for the mind.

Striving for a healthy swing

However: “Healthy golfing has nothing to do with the pursuit of a better handicap, but is the pursuit of an individual, but also healthy golf swing,” Prof. Dr. Eduard David, physiologist at the private university of Witten-Herdecke, said years ago.

More than any other sport, golf is suitable for everyone, young and old. And with optimal interaction, the game is the perfect sport for brain, heart, soul and all other systems. Golf should be available on prescription!


The health benefits of Golf – Pure medicine for your heart

The topic of golf injuries, especially back pain, is often discussed. Every little ailment is taken up and discussed, certainly with good reason, according to the motto: Do you still play golf or are you already ill?. However, the healing effect of the sport is often neglected. Golf is pure medicine for your heart, for instance. It improves your heart rate and blood pressure. The health benefits of golf cover a long list, and not only in physical terms. Golf is a sport that benefits both body and mind.

Five more years of life

There are plenty of studies about the health benefits of golf. The Swedes, have found that golfers who play at least once a week live an average of five years longer than those who don’t. The Karolinska Institute, in its capacity as the Royal Medical University, analysed the lifespan of 300,000 active golfers. The mean was born after 1920 and started playing before 2001. However, this applied primarily to male golfers with single-digit handicaps. The goal was to examine ageing over a lifetime of playing golf.

“Moderate physical activity like golf increases life expectancy,” says Dr. Andrew Murray, head of the Golf & Health Project at the University of Edinburgh. The sport supports the prevention and treatment of more than 40 important chronic diseases such as heart and stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer.

Prophylaxis against coronary disease

The British recently called for people to play golf in old age. For instance, the second largest charitable insitution regarding heart health in the UK, “Heart Research UK” praised on its newsletter the benefits of walking the fairways.

The Institution described that action as a proven prophylactic against the development of heart weaknesses and heart diseases. “Physical activity, and golf in particular, can improve levels of weight, blood pressure and cholesterol,” says the “Active Lifestyle Recommendation”. “Do what you enjoy and start slowly. Actually, what matters the most is that you start in the first place.”

The Heart Research UK has golf in high steem because it “adds a lot of walking miles to the exercise account” in a more fun way – see the 10,000-steps-a-day rule of thumb. In 2017, the Sport Industry Research Centre at Hallam University in Sheffield found that just one regular round of 18 holes a week reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 30%.

Start early enough for healthy ageing

Admittedly, Heart Research UK’s call primarily aims at the elder to “enrich their golden years with moderate health-promoting and enjoyable physical activities.” But, as we all know, you can’t start ageing healthily soon enough!

Basically, one 18-hole round burns at least 1,200 calories, 5-10 kcal/min. This corresponds to three hours of power walking, for example. Unlike other ball sports, such as football or tennis, golf burns mostly fats. This lowers blood fat levels, especially LDL cholesterol, which a surplus of it can be more harmful to the cardiovascular system.

In addition, a total of 124 muscles tense during a skilful swing. Training from head to toe. All of this in the fresh air, with constant exertion at a low pulse rate – unless the ball is lying for an eagle putt – and in the aerobic muscular range of motion. Once you manage to maintain the low pulse rate when putting a 5-foot for birdie, then you will have reached the peak of the health benefits of golf at its fullest, regarding body and mind.

Perspectives for golf clubs and golf facilities

Last but not least, in the context of the demographic development of organised golf in the country, there is also a considerable prospect for golf clubs and facilities. The target group is the “Forever Youngsters” – everything needs a catchword. Futurologists associate this with an elder social class that focuses on optimising health in the sense of longevity and refer to health as a symbol against looking old and being old.

Prevention, rehabilitation, inclusion

Consequently, the DGV launched the “Golf and Health” project in 2017. Ultimately, it is about the golf club and facilities to seek for health partners and orientations towards prevention, rehabilitation and inclusion. A perfect example is the Hummelbachaue golf course near Neuss. This club cooperates with the health service provider MedicoReha, which operates the “MedGolf Institute”. They offer a wide range of sports medicine and physiotherapy measures in its PGA golf clinic. Also in cooperation with the professionals at the Hummelbachaue.
No need to conclude that golf is the ideal sport to improve your health regardless of your age.


Back pain in golfers: The modern golf swing in the spotlight of the root cause

The golf scene has a back. We are talking about back pain in golfers, one of the main reasons why physical therapy attention increases among those who practice this sport. Tiger Woods went under the knife because of it, Suzann Pettersen had to sit out for a while, Fred Couples has been plagued with back problems for years. Back pain in golfers is a very popular desease within the golf world.

Dr. Jim Suttie blames the back pain on the “New School”

In America, they have identified the culprit: the modern golf swing is said to be to blame. “It’s a back killer,” says Dr Jim Suttie, bio-mechanic and top 50 coach.
According to a 2008 study by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 60 per cent of professionals and 40 per cent of amateur golfers suffer “permanent traumatic or overuse injuries”. Top of the complaints hit list: the lower back, followed by the elbow, shoulder and wrist.

The “right back” to avoid back pain in golfers

The modern golf swing, then. “The steep shoulder rotation and the hip blocked to build up tension, the enormous impulse from the legs and then the hip already bent in the direction of the target during the ‘impact’. Meanwhile, the right shoulder is still pointing below the left towards the ball, all this is not sustainable in the long run,” criticises Dr. Suttie from the USA. With all that goes into a swing, it is easy for golfers to develop back pain.

We ask the German golf coach Frank Adamowicz what he thinks of this assessment: “I can imagine it,” says the golf teacher and former national coach about the negative effects of the swing, “but to generalise is nonsense! A lot of things come together.” For him, the first concern should be if the cause is really the new technique or rather overestimation. The meaning behind is that one must also have the “right back” for the modern golf swing.

“Everything is about Tiger Woods now, but maybe he really did too much in the weight room and neglected his flexibility,” Adamowicz speculates. “After all, there are plenty who can!” Ernie Els, for example. Or Rory McIlroy with his enormous twist in the upswing and follow-through: “I don’t think he’ll ever get back problems.”

“Old school” takes pressure off the spine

The US PGA published a study years ago according to which one in three golfers has had to take at least two weeks off because of lower back problems. In 2011, it featured golf fitness expert Sean Cochran on its website, who said that statistically, one in two golfers will suffer a lower back injury at some point. Retief Goosen comes to mind, Dustin Johnson or Rickie Fowler. They all plague themselves with backs.

On the downswing, according to Cochran, there is a detrimental imbalance between the rotational speed of the hips and pelvis and the rotational speed of the shoulders and back, which is more than twice as fast.

They used to swing differently, the Nicklauses, Palmers, Hogans and Joneses. The “Old School” – the old school – allows the heel of the front leg to lift on the upswing to follow the rotation and weight transfer. This takes a lot of pressure off the spine and pelvis. “The classic 45-90 principle,” says Frank Adamowicz, “45 degrees hip rotation, 90 degrees shoulder rotation.” Nowadays, it seems, the tendency is towards a maximum of 30 degrees hip rotation, but preferably 100 degrees shoulder rotation. The trainer from the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club wonders “Many misjudge their possibilities. If the back is not really fit and strong, it doesn’t work.”

Long courses, brutal material

That’s how he handles students who want to swing like Tiger Woods. Adamowicz holds the eleven’s hips from behind and lets him swing up, rotating the upper body on the longitudinal axis against the rigid lower body. “The pain then shows very quickly that most of them don’t have the back for something like that.”

In the case of one or the other professional, Adamowicz estimates, “after a sports doctor’s examination they would probably also say: slow down!.” But firstly, some pros probably don’t handle their health very professionally, and secondly, the pressure to perform and the external circumstances leave little choice. “On today’s golf courses, you have to create stroke length at any cost in order to play the courses successfully,” says Adamowicz. “The material has become more brutal, I only mention the mega-stiff X-shafts as a keyword. Everything is too extreme.” Here, too, less means more.

Fitness Knowledge Panorama Training

Is golf a sport? Belén García Franco: “Every swing is an explosive movement of the entire body.”

Belén García Franco is a physical therapist from Vigo, Spain, an expert in the sport of golf, and the current captain of the Galician Women’s Golf Team. She completed her Masters with honors in Manual Physiotherapy of the Locomotive Apparatus from the University of Alcalá de Henares, in Madrid. García played golf for over fifteen years until a bad hip injury stepped on her way. In 2017 she decided to put the physiotherapist gown on to work with other passionate athletes like her to improve their game off the course, and now she and her partner run their own clinic in Vigo.

Today, Golf Post has the opportunity to ask her some questions about the relationship between shooting under par and conducting a proper physical training. We are very happy to talk with you Belén, and we are ready to shed some light on the subject. 

Full Interview with physical therapist Belén García.

Golf Post: People outside of the golf field often debate whether or not golf can be considered a sport. As a former high-level player, and now as a physical therapist, what do you think of that?

Belén García: I think that golf is undoubtedly a sport. I will say more,  it requires physical and mental activity for at least 4-5 hours, which can be quite intense in addition to the technique being highly complicated. I certainly know that it demands of a general explosive movement of the whole body. Every swing is an explosive movement of the entire body.

As with many sports, the difference between amateur and professional is huge. The professional golfer must focus closely on the training of physical preparation, so they strive to achieve great athletic form. The higher the level of play, the more emphasis will be placed on this physical aspect.

Golf Post: What are the physical benefits of playing golf?

Belén García: The most positive characteristic about golf is that everyone can practice it at any age, even the elder ones, and that is why the physical benefits of golf are countless and very diverse. The joint mobility, stability, proprioception and precision are some of the physical qualities that golf provides. In addition to aerobic endurance, as it requires physical activation lasting several hours.

Golf Post: What is the most common injury among golfers?

Belén García: From my experience, the most common injury relates to the lower back, the lumbar. The torsion caused in the swing is very damaging to the intervertebral discs, since they are structures that suffer a lot with this movement and that will eventually be damaged. The younger golfers tend to hit the ball harder, so it is also more common to find injuries at their wrist and elbow joints, due to and excessive tightening of the grip or greater power in the shot.

Golf Post: Belén, you played great golf and represented your region in several occasions until you suffered a bad hip injury. Now you are playing some golf again, how was the coming back process?

Belén García: The injury just happened without giving me any heads-up, it was all of a sudden while I was playing a tournament with the Galician team in Asturias. I loved playing that tournament because I always had so much fun traveling with the team. The environment and the sport spirit was just the best. When you spend so much time practicing and playing around, your teammates also end up being friends, so being able to experience these events with them was very fun, and I was really upset that I could not do that anymore when the injured happened.

It scared me to think that I could never play golf again, but conducting the right training and taking measures was crucial to get me through it. Last year, when I started to play some golf again, I was still afraid to go through the same pain, or that it would happen again. Playing golf is a challenge itself, but for the first time, it was more alarming than appealing to me, but I knew my limits, and trusted the recovery. Sometimes, the hardest challenge in this cases is the mental factor. I was recovered and physically ready to tee up again, but it took some work until I convinced myself of so.

Golf Post: I assume that you work with all types of athletes, and you treat numerous injuries caused by overexertion. Is there any little secret to avoid those that are most likely to suffer in golf?

Belén García: Just like in any other sport, conducting a proper preventive training at the joint and muscular level is essential to largely avoid typical golf injuries in the short and long term. Many golfers tend to finish their routine with the last shot on hole 18, but I would insist in the importance of the post-round stretching exercises to release the muscular tension.

Golf Post: The dream come true of any passionate golfer is to turn pro and to live off of it. Do you think that the physical aspect makes the difference between accomplishing the goal and not doing so successfully?

Belén García: Without any doubt, it does make the difference. Nowadays, the physical training plays a crucial role in golf. Having a good physique makes the swing more consistent and more regular throughout the round, which minimizes errors. A strong body helps to have a strong mind as well.

Golf Post: Based on your extensive experience as a golfer and physiotherapist, how common is it for elite golfers to work with physios on a daily basis? At what level would you recommend starting with a physical trainer as part of their game training?

Belén García: I think that the role of physiotherapy in sport plays a fundamental role from a preventive point of view, and to accompany the right development of the swing technique. In the same way, knowing the technical and physical qualities of the athlete can determine the optimal frequency of treatment, although it is very common for every athlete to have their physiotherapist on hand throughout the competition calendar.

Physical training is recommended for all golfers regardless of their performance level, as the best way to prevent from bad habits or injuries, as well as to improve their scores. The same way the player invests the time in the driving range or the putting green to improve their game, they should also focus on the physical training (strength, mobility, flexibility, coordination…) in order to see solid results on the scorecard. I guess it depends on what the player wants to get out of golf.

Golf Post: Now that you educated us on the off the course training. Do you have any tips for when our readers tee up on the course?

Belén García: Not to stress over it, golf can result overwhelming and it takes time to make peace with it. Personally, golf and I have a love hate relationship, but there is something about it that keeps me coming back at it. It is such a special sport that contributes values and gives life to life. I do not like giving golf tips because then if it does not go the way it is supposed to, I feel terrible. To the people who is starting to get into golf, I would suggest to take a deep breathe before every shot and to bring a couple of more balls than they think are needed. Golf can be tricky, but the show must go on. And I definitely encourage every other person out there to break with the stereotype of golf as a boring sport for the elder, and try it out. They will be pleasantly surprised.

Golf Post: Firstly, we want to thank you Belén for your time. Your experience and professionalism in the field will provide our readers with a better knowledge on the topic. We very much appreciate the enthusiasm that you have shared with us today, and the hard work that you put on every day with your athletes to help them accomplish their goals. We wish you all the best, and we hope to speak again soon.

Interview conducted and edited by Elena Sinde Romero


Golfer’s CBD has saved my career – maybe even my life

Chris Bibby went from the career high of fourth place at the 1998 Portugal Open on the European Tour, to the depths of contemplating taking his own life on a motorway bridge, as he was racked with constant pain and confined to a wheelchair.

But after discovering the life-changing effects of Golfer’s CBD, the 42-year-old is now looking forward to a far brighter future and even has ambitions to reignite his competitive playing career.

A European Tour player in 1998-1999, Manchester-based Bibby went into teaching before his diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis in 2015 and became head professional at Whitefield Golf Club in 2019. But he then dealt with increasing health issues with excessive inflammation of the joints and muscle spasms which deteriorated so much that he was unable to even walk.

After feeling that his long career in golf was effectively over, Bibby is not ashamed to admit that he even got to the point where he wondered whether life was still worth living.

Bibby said: “It had got to a stage where it had got really bad. I’m not going to lie – it got to a stage where I said to my wife ‘I think this is it. I can’t even stand on the range and watch people hit balls’. I was just in agony.

“How could I teach if I couldn’t show people?

“But I look back on my darkest time when I was in an electric wheelchair and just wanted to end it all. I took myself down to a motorway bridge but then realised I couldn’t get out of the chair to get over the barrier.

“Thankfully, I’m a lot more positive about the future now. It has changed my life. In a nutshell, I think Golfer’s CBD has saved my career – 100 per cent.”

CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of 113 cannabinoids identified by scientific research into the cannabis plant. The health benefits are a result of the gold standard extract used in Golfer’s CBD products. In addition to cannabidiol their broad spectrum CBD oil contains other beneficial cannabinoids, phytonutrients, flavonoids and terpenes. These compounds are known to reduce the risk of cancer, boost the immune system, fight disease and increase overall wellness.

There are significant benefits on the golf course where CBD positively influences mood, stress response and motor-function. The combined benefits on and off the golf course makes Golfer’s CBD the perfect supplement for players who want to feel healthy and produce their best golf.

Bibby only started trying the products in December 2020 but has noticed a huge difference already with the joint inflammation reduced significantly, his spasms almost eradicated and psoriasis effectively cleared in the space of a few weeks.

He said: “I heard about it and felt I had nothing to lose. I noticed an improvement within a couple of weeks and now I’m even back running and hitting balls again.

“I know some people will not believe it can make this kind of difference, but it has to me. It’s just helped me in so many different ways.

“There is no new treatment or any other medication or change in lifestyle. It’s this and nothing else.”

Now Bibby, who turned professional in 1994 with a handicap of plus-three, is contemplating another tilt at Tour golf.

He said: “I’m aiming to compete on the region and possibly some EuroPro events. But my ultimate goal would be to play on the Seniors Tour in eight years’ time.

“This has given me a new lease of life.”

Golfer’s CBD director, Andy Dixon, said: “When you get this sort of response from someone, it is inspiring and makes it all worthwhile. Chris believes we have helped save his career and changed his life in so many ways. We are just delighted we have been able to help him along the road to recovery.”

(Text: Azalea Press Release)