It’s a common question that’s often asked with the expectation of a black-and-white answer: What’s better for golf … yoga or strength training?
Like many aspects of the game, the answer isn’t that simple and instead specific to every individual. The reason? Two important concepts: mobility and flexibility.
While often thought to be interchangeable, these two terms can be easily misunderstood and that can seriously affect your longevity to play golf if not cared for properly. So, take heed on the concepts behind each, because it may just add years to your golf game and improve it in the process.
Mobility – think “active”
Simply stated, mobility is the range of motion you can actively take a joint through, meaning you control the movement with your brain, nervous system and muscles.
Mobility is a function of the range of motion of the joint, muscle strength around that joint, reflexes, balance and neurologic function.
Flexibility – think “passive”
Flexibility refers to the range of motion a joint can be passively taken through.
Think about lying on your back and stretching your hamstrings with a strap. That’s working with flexibility, which is primarily a function of muscle and tendon length, and only secondarily of joint range of motion, strength, neurological control and balance.
For the game of golf, increasing and maintaining mobility is far more important. And as you may have already guessed, it requires a lot more than just stretching. Improving mobility consists of building strength around the joint and regularly putting it through ranges of motion under load in positions that challenge balance and active movement.[trynow][/trynow]
The more mobility you have, the less you need to stretch
While not an absolute rule, tight muscles and joints are typically indicative of strength imbalances or injuries and therefore need to be stretched more often than healthy, balanced muscles.
What that means is stretching might be more important for some, and building strength and mobility around the joints is more important for others. Which brings us back to our question …
Yoga or strength training for golf?
Both yoga and strength training for golf can be done in ways that are good for your game, and both can be counterproductive when approached improperly or in the wrong sequence.
Some forms of yoga emphasize active range of motion and strength, while others focus on flexibility. Regardless, most forms of yoga contain moves that create risky levels of stress and load on the neck and low back. Some people can withstand these practices at length with no consequences, but many cannot.
The same is true for strength training. When done properly, strength training is the best way to build your body for golf while preventing injury and relieving pain. Done the wrong way, it can cause joint damage, injury, pain and reinforce bad habits that hinder your golf swing.
Follow the right approach for you
The key for anyone looking to optimize their body for golf is following a golf-specific program that has been carefully designed by experts with longevity, performance and joint health in mind.
That’s what makes GOLFFOREVER so effective, and is why Bill Fabrocini and I have been resoundingly successful in our practices. Above all, our commitment is to provide the safest, most effective programs that fit the unique needs of every member, which of course varies greatly depending on the individual.
We have two strength training options for this reason that focus on healthy, effective mobility and strength to promote the ultimate golf-fit body. We also have a golf-specific yoga program in the On-Demand section of GOLFFOREVER that’s tailored specifically for joint health and performance.
The bottom line is if you commit to our program and practice the best of both worlds with yoga and strength training, your body and golf game will thank you for years to come.
As always, if you have any questions, email us at [email protected].
Dr. Jeremy James
Dr. Jeremy James founded and was director of the Aspen Club Back Institute in Aspen, Colorado, is the coauthor of the bestselling The Younger Next Year Back Book and earned his Doctor of Chiropractic from the University of Western States. Learn more about Dr. James here.