Lift your way to better disc golf.

I want to be able to continue to walk upright.  Sounds reasonable, right?  I think that is something that most of us want.  It’s also something most of us take for granted until the ability to walk upright is taken from us.  I’ve been there and trust me, you want no part of it.

After blowing out 4 discs in my back, if I wanted to recover, I had some life changes to make.  Everything from my shoes to my mattress to how I sat (or now stand) at my desk would have to change.  At the time, it felt like I had rented a room in my back to a family of angry knife throwers.  I was willing to do anything and everything to make the pain stop.

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One of those things was strength training.  I was lazy and made of pudding at the time.  That significantly contributed to the problems I had.  No core strength.  No solid base.  Constant back pain from slouching at my desk all day.  I was what is currently known as a hot mess.

I’ve always hated working out.  When the heck am I ever going to need to bench press my way out of a jam?  Has anyone actually had to do a burpee in real life?  It always seemed pointless and dumb.  But then there was the whole walking upright without pain thing I was dealing with.  I do like walking.  It comes in handy when I need to use the bathroom.

Developing the habit of regular lifting in the gym was not easy.  If I hadn’t been forced to do it at first, I would still be a big lump of pudding just waiting to get injured.  One thing that started to help was that while I still disliked working out, I was starting love having worked out.  If you are ever going to start, you have to embrace this.  It might or might not suck while you are doing it, but when you are done, there’s no feeling like it.

I was walking again.  I was mobile.  I was off the pain meds.  I was heading towards the best shape I’d been in in my life.  The benefits outside the gym were undeniable.  Even after all that, though, I still wasn’t sold on regular training.  At the time, I kept wondering, “When will I be able to stop going to the gym?”  I was still going because I had to, not because I always wanted to.  I knew I needed to find a way to integrate time in the gym in to my every day routine.  Something that wasn’t optional in my mind.  I needed something else to push me besides injury prevention.

That something turned out to be disc golf.

The day they told me I could play again was one of the best days ever.  I hadn’t been able or allowed to do anything strenuous, especially the twisting involved in disc golf, for almost a year.  My discs were in the car, my day was planned, I was going to go out and throw some plastic!

I ended up throwing from a stand still for almost 2 years.  That’s how long it took to fully recover and heal properly.  During that time, I came to fully embrace the importance of making regular training a part of my life.    Not just for the health benefits, but for the major leaps it helped me to achieve in my game.

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Here’s the top 10 things strength training did for my disc golf game.  I’m sure it would do the same for yours.

  1. I haven’t been injured in 3 years.  I used to get hurt all the time.  Training has completely exorcised the Derrick Rose from my body.
  2. My distance has improved.  Strength alone will not improve distance.  Balance, flexibility, coordination, and control of your body do improve distance.  All of these things come directly from a solid strength training program.  Think gymnast strength.  Power and speed delivered fluidly.  I can think of no better description for a proper throw.
  3. My straddle putt improved.  The first time I had to straddle out from a tree after coming back from my inuries was an eye opener.  I was able to get way out from the tree, squat way down, and feel stable and in control.  The squats and deadlifts I had been doing paid huge dividends here.
  4. My accuracy improved.  The stable base that was helping my straddle putt was also providing a stable base for all types of throws.  Accuracy stems in part from having absolute control over what your body is doing.  That control starts in your legs, core, and posterior chain primarily.
  5. A stable base and balanced muscle development led to better posture.  Lifting has me standing up straighter, not slouched with rounded shoulders.  I’ve found I have a lot more control over all of my shots from drives to putts when I stand up straighter, shoulders back, head up.
  6. I have better control and coordination.  Each of my days in the gym in the off season starts with a big compound lift.  To do these correctly and without injury, your entire body has to work together.  This is a great way to train your CNS (central nervous system).  Throwing a disc is a big, compound movement.  It incorporates the entire body just like the lifts do.
  7. I am better able to stick to my practice regimen.  I practice a lot now.  I didn’t used to.  It’s amazing how much the discipline involved in training regularly has transferred to every other area of my life.  I don’t skip training or practice any more.
  8. I don’t get fatigued any more.  3, 4, 5 rounds in a day and more are no problem.  At 43 I’m confident I can keep up with anyone.
  9. I don’t need to lug a stool around any more.  Aside from the fact that disc golf stools are HORRIBLE for your back, I no longer feel the need to sit down all the time.  It’s pretty nice hitting the last holes of a tournament knowing you have more gas in the tank than anyone else there.
  10. I can now throw my putter 800 feet…  Not really, but I needed a #10 and this is the internet.  Can’t everyone on the interwebs throw 800 feet with a putter?
For those of you that work out regularly, what other benefits have you seen?  For those of you that don’t, what’s stopping you?