Thursday, March 24, 2016

Balance & Stability Training for Golfers

Balance is the ability to maintain center of gravity when external forces are placed on it. 

Stability is the ability of any system to remain unchanged or aligned in the presence of change or outside forces. 

In golf one must have good balance to maintain posture while moving through the golf swing and remain stable on uneven surfaces or even in windy situations.  The golf swing is a complex movement pattern combining mobility and stability.  It requires the ankles, hips and spine to be mobile while your feet, knees and pelvis must be stable.  You can create stability by combining balance, strength, and muscle endurance. 

As a Certified Burdenko Method instructor, we learn the six essential qualities of life and sport are balance, coordination, flexibility, endurance, speed and strength.  We must start at the bottom of the pyramid and master balance, coordination and flexibility before moving on to developing endurance, speed and strength.  While many people feel that balance and stability training is more appropriate for a senior exercise program, it is very important to work on balance to maintain postural alignment and control while developing power in younger athletes.

Why is balance so important in golf?

Just like Burdenko, balance is the first fundamental in golf.  You must maintain posture throughout your swing while at the same time generating speed/power and stretching/contracting adjacent segments.  You a need to be able to load on the back leg before transitioning into the downswing.  Better balance means better control of the club which means better accuracy.  Maintaining balance and posture throughout the entire swing will also help with consistency.  Isn’t that what we all strive for?

You must also consider the surfaces you are playing on.  Golf courses are typically not flat!  You may be hitting on a hill, one foot in a bunker, or even strange foot positions to avoid trees or other obstacles.  It’s important to stay on your feet and practicing your balance can help.

How do you test balance?

We test balance with TPI’s Single Leg Balance Test.  According to TPI, “It highlights any ankle mobility or proprioceptive imbalance from left to right as well as overall stability in the core.”

Do not attempt this test without a Certified TPI Professional.  The Single Leg Balance Test begins by standing with your arms by your sides.  Lift one leg to 90 degrees so that your thigh is parallel to the ground.  When you’re stable and feel balanced, close your eyes.  How long can you maintain balance?  Any movement or repositioning of the leg/foot would be considered a loss of balance.  

The PGA Tour standard is at least 25 seconds on each foot with your eyes closed.

What can I do to improve my balance?

There are a variety of exercises you can do to improve your balance.  Balance starts to decline when we reach a certain age so it’s important to keep working on your balance every day.

Here are 3 balance exercises to try:

1.  Half Roll Tandem Stance

-Begin by standing with both feet on a half roll with one foot in front of the other.
-Maintain balance as long as you can then repeat with the leg in front.
-You can also challenge yourself by closing your eyes.

2.  Half Roll Leg Swings

-Begin by standing with one foot on a half roll.
-Swing your leg forwards and backwards.
-Keep your back straight and add in your arms swinging opposite arm/leg.
-You can also challenge yourself by closing your eyes.

3.  Single Leg Stance with Torso Turns

-Begin in golf posture.
-Cross your arms and lift one leg off the ground.
-Practice maintaining balance and lower body stability while rotating your torso side to side. Remember: slow and controlled!

Blog post by Jen Skiba.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Coconut Water vs Sports Drinks for Rehydration and Electrolytes

What’s in your drink?

Everyone knows that water is important to drink throughout the day, especially if you are active. Physical activity requires an increased fluid intake because we sweat- which contains not only water but also salts and other compounds and helps regulate body temperature. This loss of salts can lead to an electrolyte imbalance. It is important to replace these electrolytes, especially after vigorous activity. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium are essential for the body to function and plain water typically does not contain these vital electrolytes. Coconut water and sports drinks are often looked to after physical activity to restore hydration levels as well as electrolyte levels. But which is better?

Coconut Water

Coconut water is the clear liquid inside young, green coconuts. Coconut water is different from coconut milk which is squeezed from the white, freshly outer layer.2 It is packed with naturally occurring potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus- all very important electrolytes. Coconut water also contains natural sugars and protein.

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are specifically made with added electrolytes, carbohydrates, or protein, depending on the brand. Many now have a “low calorie” version, but typically contain calories in the form of carbohydrates to help restore energy levels during or after physical activity. Sports drinks sometimes contain protein to help aid muscle recovery, adding to the calorie count.

Which is Better?

There are only a few research studies comparing coconut water, sports drinks, and plain water directly. In regards to rehydrating, Harvard Medical School recommends drinking plain water if you are not doing vigorous physical activity. “Drink when you are thirsty and don’t waste your money or calories on sports drinks- choose water instead…  Athletes who have had a muscle cramps may need to drink extra, and may need more electrolytes.”4 While it is better to drink either coconut water or a sports drink to replace electrolytes, the studies that have been done found no significant difference between rehydrating with either one. Both will replace the electrolytes lost, help refuel you with energy, and contain protein.1,2,3 However, it was found that both coconut water and sports drinks will lead to more gastrointestinal bloating compared to plain water.3 Interestingly, those participants drinking sports drinks felt that their thirst was quenched better than those drinking plain water or coconut water.1

Overall, all agreed to rehydrate! Save the coconut water and sports drinks for moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity. Drink plain water throughout the day. If you are not sure how much water you should be drinking, check with your doctor.

  1. Kalman, D. S., Feldman, S., Krieger, D. R., & Bloomer, R. J. (2012). Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 1. Retrieved March 9, 2016, from
  2. Levers, K. (n.d.). NATURE'S GATORADE: Effectiveness of Coconut Water on Electrolyte and Carbohydrate Replacement. Retrieved March 09, 2016, from
  3. Saat, M., Singh, R., Sirisinghe, R. G., & Nawawi, M. (2002). Rehydration after Exercise with Fresh Young Coconut Water, Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Beverage and Plain Water. [Abstract].J. Physiol. Anthropol. Journal of PHYSIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY and Applied Human Science, 21(2), 93-104. Retrieved March 9, 2016, from
  4. Skerrett, P. J. (2012, July 30). Trade sports drinks for water [Web log post]. Retrieved March 9, 2016, from

Blog post by Nikki Courtney.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Magic of Seltzer Water

The human body needs water for a number of reasons. We need water for not only vital functions like digestion, temperature regulation, and blood pressure, but a lack of adequate water intake can lead to a multitude of health concerns. Water makes up about 60% of the body weight of an average adult. There are many ways to ingest water including from the foods we eat. Drinking plain water can get boring and with options like soda and fruit juices, it’s hard to get enough. Carbonated water, also known as seltzer, is a great alternative for soda drinkers to drink more water. But is seltzer just as healthy as plain “still” water?

Seltzer is water that is infused with carbon dioxide, giving seltzer and soda their signature fizz. The carbonation in seltzer water causes it to be slightly acidic, around 5 or 6 on the pH scale. Plain water has a pH of 7, making it neutral (neither basic or acidic). Most soda has a pH as high as 2.5, making it acidic. Acidic drinks can sometimes soften tooth enamel, especially if they contain citrus fruits. Seltzer is a better choice than soda because it does not contain sugar and is less acidic.

Besides having no sugar and a low acidity, seltzer water can also help you with your diet. The carbonation in seltzer can help you feel more full. This can be beneficial to help control portion sizes and help you lose weight. However, drinking too much seltzer water can cause some gastrointestinal discomfort, especially if you have a preexisting condition. 

It's important to note that there are many different types of seltzer water, each with its own benefits. Plain seltzer water is just water infused with carbonation. Mineral water comes from natural springs and contains minerals. Club soda, on the other hand, is seltzer water with added minerals. That means it's not from a natural spring and is essentially “artificial” mineral water. Lastly, tonic water is really in a class of its own. Tonic water is carbonated water infused with quinine, a bitter tasting alkaloid extracted from the bark of a cinchona tree. Tonic water is the only seltzer water that generally does contain calories. Mineral water, club soda, and plain seltzer water generally have ZERO calories!

Plain water is almost always the best choice but if you want to change it up or try something new, try seltzer water! You should always consult your doctor or nutritionist before making a drastic change in eating habits. If you are looking for a healthier choice with less calories and sugar, or if you’re looking for a less acidic drink that won’t wear on your tooth enamel as much as soda, try seltzer water.

Blog post by Nikki Courtney.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dehydration & Exercising with Certain Medical Conditions

What don’t we need water for?

Water is essential in everyday life. The human body needs water for anything from digestion to hormone regulation to circulation. The body will function properly as long as there is an adequate fluid intake. The water we need can come from both foods and beverages. “In the United States it is estimated that about 22% of water comes from our food intake while it would be much higher in European countries, particularly a country like Greece with its higher intake of fruits and vegetables, or South Korea1.” When the human body needs more water than what is taken in, dehydration occurs. Dehydration can have some severe signs and symptoms and can also exacerbate some medical conditions. Also, certain medical conditions require medication use that can change how much water the body needs.

Hypertension and Diuretics

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is sometimes treated with a diuretic or “water pill.” Diuretics encourage the body to get rid of “unneeded” water and salts through the urine. By getting rid of this excess water the heart can pump more easily and as a result lowers blood pressure. Diuretics can also be used to treat heart failure, liver problems, and kidney problems. A common side effect of water pills is increased urination to expel the extra water from the body. Dehydration can occur in individuals on this type of medication during exercise due to the increase in perspiration coupled with the diuretic medication. It is important to remember that diuretics help to get rid of unneeded water and it is still very important to drink water throughout the day and when you exercise.


On the other hand, drinking water can actually help hypotension (low blood pressure). Orthostatic hypotension- low blood pressure caused when changing from a lying position to a sitting or standing position, often too quickly- can be mediated by drinking small sips of water over a 15- 20 minute period1.


Drinking water can help get rid of headaches. “Ingestion of water provided relief from headache in most individuals within 30 minutes to 3 hours3.” Headaches can be caused for a number of reasons. Dehydration headaches can be caused by a lack of water or an electrolyte imbalance, so hydrating and replacing the electrolytes that were lost is best.

Adequate Intake (AI) for Water

The World Health Organization (WHO) has done multiple research studies to find out how much water to drink each day. Every person is different and the amount of water an individual's needs just to survive varies depending on age, gender, height, weight, climate, and activity levels. The WHO came up with an adequate intake guideline. Please keep in mind that 1 liter is equal to almost 34 fluid ounces.

AI for boys and girls birth to eight years of age2
0- 6 months
0.7 L/day of water, assumed to be from milk
7- 12 months
0.8 L/day of water, assumed to be from milk and other beverages
1- 3 years
1.3 L/day
4- 8 years
1.7 L/day

AI for ages nine and older2
9- 13 years
Boys: 2.4 L/day
Girls: 2.1 L/day
14- 18 years
Boys: 3.3 L/day
Girls: 2.3 L/day
19- 70+ years
Men: 3.7 L/day
Women: 2.7 L/day

If you have questions about water intake, dehydration, or its effects on certain medical conditions, please speak with your doctor directly. They will be able to help determine exactly how much water you need!

1.  Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2011, August 1). Water, Hydration   and Health. Retrieved February 13, 2016, from
2.  Grandjean, A., & World Health Organization. (2004, August). Water   Requirements, impinging Factors, and Recommended Intakes. Retrieved   February 13, 2016
3.  Simpson, M. R., Howard, T., & American College of Sports Medicine. (2011).   Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness. Retrieved February   13, 2016, from  effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf

Blog post by Nikki Courtney.