SARCOPENIA IN THE AGING GOLFER WILL INFLUENCE DISTANCE AND PERFORMANCE

Bob Forman

Certified Golf Fitness Instructor

MS, Exercise Physiology

 

There’s a sound, physiological reason for the Senior tees.  It’s called sarcopenia, although it’s a sure bet that’s not the reason why the USGA developed the forward gold tee box.

 

MRI cross section male thighSarcopenia, which affects both men and women, can be defined as the age-related loss of muscle mass and function.  It usually begins after the age of 30 and as much as 3% to 8% of muscle mass can be lost per decade for inactive people.  That percentage increases to 5% to 10% after the age of 50, which amounts to about 1 lb. of muscle per year.  The photo on the right is an MRI cross-section of a male thigh at the age of 25 (left) and age 63.  Note the difference in muscle-to-fat (white) ratios. 

 

Inactive accounts for about 40% of people between the ages of 45 and 64, according to AARP, and 60% for people over 64.  Playing golf does not fulfill the “active status” requirement necessary to combat this condition as you’ll soon read. 

Loss of muscle mass is of consequence as it equates to loss of strength, mobility, power production, and balance.  Lower body muscles tend to have greater strength loss than those in the upper body.  Nevertheless, both will influence your quality of life and your golf game.   

 

What’s extremely relevant is that most of the muscle atrophy is seen in the fast-twitch, type II muscle fibers vs. the slow-twitch, type I.  Of the two types, fast-twitch muscle fibers are responsible for quick, explosive movements such as when sprinting or swinging a golf club.  Loss of these, more than likely, will result in a deterioration of performance such as loss of distance due to a slower clubhead speed, which is a common complaint among aging golfers.

 

While inactivity plays a major role in the loss of muscle mass, several other factors play a part in the development of sarcopenia such as age-related changes in the neuromuscular system (brain-body connection), the rate of muscle protein synthesis, and a decrease in the concentrations of some hormones. 

 

The prevention and treatment for sarcopenia is exercise, especially resistance or strength training exercise that places an overload on the muscles.  As a matter of fact, resistance training has been shown to positively influence all the factors associated with the development of sarcopenia just mentioned.


senior male wtsResearch indicates that a properly designed, progressive strength training program enhances the brain-body connection by increasing the firing rates of motor neurons, which are the units responsible for sending signals between the brain and body.  This improves muscle fiber recruitment which leads to faster muscle contractions and greater force production.  That will help maintain or regain clubhead speed and distance down the fairway.

Resistance training has also been shown to enhance protein synthesis in as little as 2 weeks of supervised training, thereby improving muscle regeneration and slowing the rate of muscle loss. 

 

What’s vital is that the design of the resistance training program is appropriate for the individual.  Factors that need to be considered include the current fitness level and any musculoskeletal/health concerns the golfer may have.  In that regard, a medical check-up is always a wise idea before starting any type of exercise program.  

In addition, a physical assessment conducted by a certified golf fitness instructor prior to start of the program will provide a snapshot of the golfer's readiness for golf.  This information is invaluable in determining exercise selection and design.  Functional golf-specific exercises should be included and progression of the program needs to be done in a timely fashion so that the potential for injury is kept to a minimum. 

 

Keep in mind that the golf fitness program must first always focus on correcting the anatomical deficiencies identified in the assessment.  Golf-specific strength and balance exercises can then be introduced to improve playing performance while preventing and partially reversing the impact of sarcopenia.  Finally, speed exercises should be incorporated in order to further enhance recruitment of the fast-twitch muscle fibers.  

It’s clear to see why progression through all phases of the golf fitness program is even more vital to the aging golfer.  No doubt, enhancing range of motion and flexibility, even cardio, is crucial for golf, but don’t sell yourself short by ignoring female exercising with tubingthe strength and speed components.  If you do, you’ll more than likely find yourself hitting first from the fairway.

 

Protein and carbohydrate supplementation immediately after a strength training session is recommended for replenishing energy stores in both the muscle and liver, and to slow muscle breakdown from the exercise session while promoting muscle synthesis (build-up).

Sarcopenia is a fact of life, but can be easily treated.  A progressive program of resistance exercises done at least twice a week is all it takes.  If gym access is not available, resistance training can be accomplished with the use of exercise tubing/bands or even the individual’s body weight as resistance. 

 
The gold tees make physiological sense as most aging golfers do nothing to prevent the deterioration of their muscle mass and power production.  Holding off the move up to the Senior tees and/or hitting greens in regulation again can be achievable.  Contact a qualified golf fitness instructor and get into a productive golf fitness program.                   

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH

Quad-Hip Flexor Stretch

This is a progressive stretch for the quad-hip flexor area.  Be cautious as you lean back on the bench as it will challenge the knee if the quads are tight.  Avoid this stretch if you've had knee replacement.  Tight quads/hip flexors will impede hip mobility and that may rob you of power and distance.

 

 

Check with your physician before starting any type of exercise program.

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

GOLF FITNESS
ASSESSMENT & TRAINING


A quality, customized golf fitness program will. . .
  • Enhance swing efficiency
  • Increase distance
  • Improve playing performance and satisfaction
  • Identify and correct golf-specific injury triggers

    All for much less than what another brand new driver that's going to "fix my game" would cost
     
click here for details

  


The golf exercises are going great.  I am hitting the ball the best I have ever hit it.  My back pain has gone away also. 
 
David R. 

more testimonials

HOST A WORKSHOP

If your Club or organization would like to host an informative golf fitness workshop, contact Bob at bob@golfitcarolina.com or 336-509-4610.

Bob came to my club and did a hour long session on the basics of his teaching and philosophy of fitness and how it relates to the golf swing and its performance.  My members thoroughly enjoyed the hour and wanted more.  I was impressed with his content and explanation.  My members were floored with his Q&A and his personal adaptation to their issues.  I was impressed with his interaction with attendants of the seminar.  If you are looking for someone to integrate your fitness program with the golf program, Bob is the guy to do it!  We will be booking Bob to come back to our club next spring.
Shannon Howell, PGA Head Golf Professional
Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC


"Bob Forman was fabulous!  He is a great presenter who shared some extremely valuable information related to how anatomical deficiencies such as: poor posture, flexibility, and balance impact our golf swing.  He not only shared what they are and how they impact the swing, but also demonstrated exercises to help correct them."
Ellen Gregory
EWGA-Wilmington, NC chapter

“Westchester is one of the Country’s largest private clubs with a membership that has high expectations for service and performance.  Bob Forman’s seminar on golf specific fitness and flexibility was extremely well received and motivated many of my members to begin a program of evaluation, exercise and follow-ups.  I highly recommend Bob for his knowledge, energy , and ability to connect with amateurs concerning golf fitness.” 
John Kennedy, Director of Golf
Westchester CC, 
Harrison, NY

Bob has a fantastic ability to understand and combine his expertise of the physical complexities of the human body with the PGA Professional’s trained eye with respect to the complexities of the golf swing.  Bob offers a refreshing angle that most amateur and professional golfers can understand and embrace.  Many times, a golfer will have physical limitations that prevents him or her from moving the way the PGA Professional is trying to instruct.  Bob can take the golfer’s weakest physical traits and focus a training program to better overcome those obstacles and allow the golfers to ultimately improve their swing. 
Dennis Nicholl, PGA Head Golf Professional
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

Functional Golf Fitness Training is a comprehensive player improvement resource for golfers of all ages and levels, teaching professionals and coaches.  
A great manual for golf teams as well.  

Dedicated chapters on:
- the common physical deficiencies most golfers have, how to detect and correct with over 40 golf-specific exercises and drills
- preventing/alleviating the #1 injury in golf, low back injury
- how to fix the more common swing faults 
- how to put together an inexpensive home gym

Amazon reviews:

"Very clear explanations of causes and fixes for main physical deficiencies affecting golfers. Easy to follow instructions. While other books may give a whole laundry list of exercises that end up not being used, Forman has selected a few for each issue and puts together a program that doesn't take long to do"

"This book not only tells you what to do but also why you need to do and what results you can expect.
I have every book in print about golf fitness and this book is by far the best."


Available in print at TheBookPatch

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or as an ebook on Amazon

Go to
http://www.amazon.com/Functional-Golf-Fitness-Training-ebook/dp/B00FH88Q0Q

SWING FAULT PHYSIOLOGY

Swing mechanics are often influenced by physical deficiencies in the golfer's body.  Below are some of the more common swing faults, their physical causes and how to correct.

GOLF POSTURE

S-POSTURE AND LOW BACK PAIN

EARLY EXTENSION

SWAY & SLIDE

REVERSE SPINE

While correcting the deficiencies, you also need to rewire the brain-body connection in order to break out of the inefficient swing pattern.  

REWIRE THE BAD SWING HABIT

RADIO / PODCASTS

 

 
June 22, 2017
(go to 1:10:00 into the show)
golf posture, muscle imbalance, improving distance, stretching, hydration, Tiger and specialization, Rory and weight lifting



March 14, 2015
(go to 1:08:00 into the show)
fitness vs. golf fitness, strength training and slowing down the aging process, C and S-postures,  


August 28, 2014
We talk about Shan's golf fitness assessment results

 


June 26, 2014


scroll down to 9/9/2013
(go to 23:15 into the show)
back injury