7 Simple Tips to Protect Your Health on the Golf Course

Golf fitness (specific exercises and stretches designed for golfers) can help your golf game, and playing golf can help you get or stay fit. But staying healthy during a round of golf is very important, too. Here are some general tips for protecting your health during a round of golf.
  • Protect your skin from the sun. Apply a strong sun block and wear a hat, and follow the sun block directions for how often you need to re-apply. Look for golf shirts with high SPF ratings. For extra protection of your face and neck, try a wide-brimmed hat rather than a golf cap or visor.

  • Warm up before you begin your round. Start slowly with some golf stretches. Take a few half-speed swings before attempting a full-speed swing.

  • Stay hydrated throughout the round. Drink plenty of fluids — just make sure they are the right fluids. That means water, first and foremost. Sports drinks work, too. What to avoid? Alcohol, especially on a hot day. Of course, some golfers play golf as an excuse to drink beer. Alcohol dehydrates and, in excess, can disorient, both of which are bad during a round of golf (or any other activity).

  • Be aware! Golf clubs and golf balls can do a lot of damage if you are struck by one. Pay attention out there. If you hit an errant shot, yell out "fore!" even if you can't see any golfers up ahead. And if you hear a "fore," don't turn and look for an incoming ball — duck and cover your head. Stand well clear of a golfer about to play a shot, and make sure before playing your own ball that nobody is standing too close.

  • Lift with your legs. This applies to lifting golf bags in particular — bending at the waist to pick up your bag is an easy way to strain your back. It's a simple thing, but don't let a simple thing lead to pain in your back or neck. If you plan to walk and carry your bag during the round, invest in a lightweight, double-strap bag.

  • If there is lightning anywhere in the area, get off the course immediately. People carrying golf clubs in their hands are at great risk from lightning. If it's simply not possible to get off the course and lightning is striking near you (and especially if you feel electricity in the air), move away from your golf clubs and the golf cart and find a low area; squat in the baseball catcher's position with your hands around your knees. Make yourself as small a target as possible. Stay away from water and trees. And remember that an open shelter on the golf course is not a shelter from lightning.

  • If using in a riding cart, always observe the golf cart rules in place at the golf course (cart path only? 90-degree rule? etc.). When it comes to golf carts, the most important thing for your health is simple: don't act dumb. No sharp turns at speed, no "joyriding," etc. Getting thrown out of a cart can cause injury; crashing a cart into something — or someone — can cause injury.
There are many fitness trainers and consultants, physical therapists and even doctors who specialize in golf-related injuries now. If you are suffering problems caused by or exacerbated by golf activities, seek help. Don't let a little problem grow into a bigger one; and learn how to properly stretch to protect those muscles in the first place.

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