Golfers: How flexible are you? By Dr. Stephanie Harris
Flexibility is an overlooked and undervalued part of fitness, especially when it comes to golf. Golfers are athletes who require great degrees of range of motion in multiple joints (shoulders, torso, hips…) to swing a golf club. If your body does not have the proper range of motion, your distance, consistency, and swing will suffer and will also put you at risk for injury!
No matter what your handicap, every golfer can benefit from a stretching program and they will see the results in both the way they hit the ball and also in the way they feel during and after the round. In today’s post I will talk about the most important things to DO and the things you should AVOID when it comes to golf specific stretching programs.
When discussing stretching, it is important to understand the difference between static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching involves taking a muscle to a point of tension and holding that position for a given period of time. This type of stretching should be used after a work out or sports and helps improve overall muscle flexibility. Dynamic stretching consists of functional based exercises that use sport specific movements to prepare the body for athletic activity. This type of stretching should be used as a warm up before sports.
Dr. Harris’ Tips for a good Pre-Round Warm-up:
- Don’t rush to the first tee! Plan on arriving at the course with enough time to complete a 5-minute warm-up plus time to hit a few balls on the range. This will greatly reduce the tightness/stiffness that is usually felt on the first few holes and reduce your risk for injury.
- Before heading to the range to hit balls, perform a 5-minute dynamic stretching warm up. This will get your muscles loose and ready for your round.
- After your warm up, spend 5 – 10 minutes on the range.
- Don’t warm up swinging more than one club at a time. This can lead to compensatory movements in your arms, altered proprioception (balance), and can lead to over-swinging when you go back to a single club.
- On the range, start with a wedge or an iron to work on your swing sequencing. The driver should be the last club you take out of your bag. Remember, a warm up is about finding your swing rhythm; it’s not about power!
- Don’t forget to breathe! Proper breathing will help you with your tempo.
- After your round, spend another 5-minutes cooling down (static stretching).
- Ensure both your warm up and cool down covers shoulders, elbows, wrists, back, hips, and knees to allow your body to be fully prepared for golf.
- Ask for help. If you are currently are dealing with an injury or experiencing pain, consult a health care practitioner to get a proper diagnosis and a customized stretching program that is tailored to your needs.
- If your tee time is in the morning, get to the course a little earlier than usual. Muscles tend to be stiffer and less flexible in the morning.
- If it’s a cold day, spend more time warming-up and wear warmer clothes (layers). Cold weather causes your muscles to stiffen and requires a longer warm-up to achieve the same flexibility as on a warm day.
- Incorporate stretching into your daily practice routine.
Stay Tuned for my next Blog. I will go through a dynamic warm-up that you can perform before your next round of golf!
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