11 Nov The Aging Golfer Athlete
“The aging process for the professional or amateur golfer requires attention in terms of proper preparation from the physical side of the equation in order to negate the effects of “father time.” It is scientifically proven the aging process adversely affects the kinetic chain in terms of one’s mobility, segmental stability, balance capacities, speed generation, and strength capacities” – Sports Performance Coach Sean Cochran
The Aging Process: The aging process invariably affects the kinetic chain in an adverse manner. It is scientifically proven the body can become physically limited if steps are not taken to impede the aging process. Research studies have indicated the human bodies muscle mass with a sedentary lifestyle will decrease by 50% between the ages of 20 and 50. Additionally on average individuals will loose about 30% of their strength between the ages of 50 and 70. These are startling numbers and definitively point to the necessity of any golfer to be pro-active in the reversal of these aforementioned aging trends.
Not only is one’s muscle mass affected by the aging process, additional research studies indicate muscle reaction times and neural firing rates decrease. This leads to slower reaction times as well as more difficulty in executing finite athletic actions (i.e. golf swing). Finally, joint mobility and muscle flexibility can decrease due to water content changes within the soft tissues resulting in decreased levels of extensibility. Over all we can see how the aging process negatively affects the kinetic chain and in hindsight causes difficulties in executing a proficient golf swing, results in losses of club head speed, and overall athleticism.
Steps to Take with the Aging Athlete: Recognizing the affects of the aging process requires the golfer to address these physical issues via a structured program with the goal of reversing and limiting the aging process on one’s golf game. This process will entail the inclusion of a conditioning or golf fitness program addressing the needs and goals of the aging athlete.
The reality is a golfer in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, or even 70’s is unable to utilize a general fitness program or many of the programs advertised due to the fact the requirements of these individuals is very different than your twenty somethings. The aging athlete requires a program addressing their needs and the affects of the aging process. This type of program is different in terms of exercises and modalities simply because the needs and goals of this population are different.
The Basics of the Aging Athletes Golf Fitness Program: Knowing a golf fitness program for the aging athlete is focused on addressing the goals and needs of this population, such a program will be structured differently. This structure will encompass the modalities and exercises required by this population of golfers which begins with addressing what is termed the mobility/stability pattern of human movement.
The mobility/stability pattern of human movement principle developed by noted physical therapist Gray Cook and strength coach Mike Boyle states in order for the kinetic chain (i.e. body) to perform efficient movement patterns (golf swing included), the body operates in an alternating pattern of mobile joint and stable body segments. If this pattern of mobile joints and stable body segments is altered, dysfunctions will occur resulting in poor movement patterns, in addition to the development of compensatory patterns.
The aging process can directly affect the mobility/stability pattern of human movement causing restrictions in mobility due to poor soft tissue extensibility, and limitations in segmental stabilization because of losses in muscular strength. That being said the first step in the development of programming for the aging athlete is to return the mobility/stability pattern of human movement to a high level of functioning. This process is achieved via corrective exercises and modalities addressing one’s joint mobility, segmental stabilization, and motor firing patterns.
The training program for the aging athlete will be based on the re-development of the mobility/pattern of human movement, and the correction of physical dysfunctions. Once this parameter has been inputted into ones programming additional training modules can be entered. These modules will look to address additional requirements of the golf swing relative to body such as balance, power development, and total body functional strength.
The volume of this type of training is very dependent upon the individual and will always be secondary to the re-development of the mobility/stability pattern of human movement.
Sample Programming for the Aging Athlete: Now that we understand the needs of the aging athlete and the necessary components of such a program, the following is a sample program to provide a better understand of what a program for the aging athlete may look like. Again, this is strictly a sample program and one that should not be utilized as any program should be individualized.
- Myo-Fascial Release – Static Flexibility:
Calf Foam Roll – Hamstring Foam Roll – Glute Foam Roll – IT Band Foam Roll – Hip Flexor
Foam Roll – T-Spine Foam Roll
Calf Stretch – Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch – Piriformis Stretch – Kneeling Hip Flexor – Glute
Stretch – Physio-Ball Lat Stretch
- Corrective Exercise – Dynamic Warm Up:
Bent Knee Marches – Kneeling Hip Flexor Press – Windshield Wipers – Kneeling Club Rotations
– Torso Backswings
Bent Knee Side-to-Side Leg Swings – Straight Leg Swings Side-to-Side – Straight Leg Swings
Forward – Back
- Segemental Stabilization:
Prone Hold – Bent Knee Back Hold – Kneeling Cable Chops – Kneeling Cable Lifts – Tubing
Lateral Walks – Ys’/T’s/W’s/L’s
- Speed Development:
Kneeling Medicine Ball Side Throw
- Functional Strength Training:
Suspension Trainer Squat – Horizontal Row – Suspension Trainer Bent Knee Back Press –
T-Rotation Push Up
About Performance Coach Sean Cochran: Sean Cochran, one of the most recognized performance coaches in sports today. A career spanning positions with 2 major league baseball organizations, over 10 years on the PGA Tour and work with top professionals including three-time Masters, PGA, and British Open Champion Phil Mickelson, future hall of fame Trevor Hoffman, and Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy provides Sean a proven track record of success. He has been involved in the production of numerous performance videos and authored books including; Performance Golf Fitness, Complete Conditioning for Martial Arts, and Fit to Hit. He has been a presenter of educational seminars for numerous organizations including the world renowned Titleist Performance Institute.