The vast majority of golfers experience a significant loss in club head speed and distance as they age. Golf score, and either directly or indirectly, level of enjoyment from the game starts to decline as this speed reduction occurs. Let’s make one point very clear. It’s not your chronological age that is primarily responsible for the decline in distance, it is your drop in strength and speed/power.
By understanding the mechanisms that underlie this drop off in power it becomes much easier to try and apply appropriate training interventions.
Decrease in Muscle Activity / Neural Drive:
To carry out a movement, our Central Nervous System must activate motor units (MU). Motor units are comprised of a motor nerve, and the muscle fibers that it innervates. In an effort to avoid complexity, the more MU’s that are recruited, and the faster that these signals to recruit MU’s are sent from the CNS, the stronger and faster our movements can be. This is of course extremely important for generating high club head speed. It has been well established that as one ages there is a loss in working MU’s which means generating high levels of force and speed becomes more difficult.
This is the term given to the loss of muscle size and strength due to aging. Due to the selective atrophy and loss of fast twitch fibers, and other more complex nervous system factors, muscle power is lost at approximately twice the rate of muscle strength. This is a very important point to note if maintaining high club head speed is a goal. With similar levels of muscle mass, and maximum strength, elderly populations tend to have much lower power levels.
What Can Be Done About It - Training
Recreational activity, or general exercise is not the same thing, and the training must meet some specific criteria for maximum benefit to be attained.
In particular, there are two types of training that have massive benefit for reversing/delaying the loss of muscle power in aging populations. The first is strength training, which concentrates on developing the maximum force one can exert in a particular movement or exercise. The second type is usually labelled under speed & power training. This is the vital difference between strength and power. Strength measures do not take the time to produce maximum force into consideration, while power is concerned with the maximum amount of force that can be produced very quickly.
Take ownership of your strength & power training, take wherever you are now as your starting point, and embark on a plan for improvement…..which can be improved significantly, regardless of your current fitness level or age!
Hopefully the information provided in this article has made you realize the critical importance of training to keep your muscles and nervous system strong and fast. It’s one of the best investments of your time and energy for keeping your club head speed, and general quality of life high for as long as possible.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out via email:firstname.lastname@example.org or call 908-464-4644 . Doreen Puglisi, owner of Body Restoration has done extensive research in the area of golf related fitness. Her research has been presented at The World Scientific Congress of Golf in St. Andrews, Scotland.
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