Ever tried to hit a golf ball or play a round of golf without warming up first? Then you probably know the kind of problems and frustrations that can come from the lack of preparation. Although golf is not exactly an active sport, it still does involve athletic motion, involving a wide range of joints and muscles that typically don’t perform at their best of their ability when taken out of their state of inactivity. Without warming up first, it might take you a few holes and swings to be able to get anything going.
The human body typically doesn’t go from a sedentary state and instantly switch to one in which it’s ready for physical activity. As such, it’s important to stretch and warm up gradually, which will help the blood flow more actively throughout the body so that you can perform effectively. Keep in mind that the mechanics of a golf swing requires a high level of flexibility, strength, coordination, and stability. A golfer with poor mobility will likely suffer in terms of getting a good club head speed and might even develop compensatory adjustments to their swing, which only leads to inaccuracy and even injury.
If you play golf and want to get better at it, you need to know about golf stretching. In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about Golf Stretches, and tips about the best golf stretches.
What are Golf Stretches And How Can They Help?
Golf stretches are the kinds of exercises that make a player ready to play a round of golf by stretching their muscles, warming up their bodies, and increasing their confidence. They are regular exercises meant for golfers to help them play the right way and developing their power to hit the ball perfectly into the hole.
Golf has undergone a fitness revolution in the last 15 to 20 years. Traditionally, the game was thought as one where anyone could play no matter their physical conditions. However, serious golfers are increasingly turning towards fitness as a way of improving their performance. And aside from the obvious benefit of getting fit, golf stretching can improve your game in several ways. These include better balance, higher swing speeds, improved strength through the hitting area, among others.
Working on your fitness to specifically be better at playing golf is something your want to do carefully, with plenty of planning. Not all exercises will be beneficial to playing golf, so you want to keep your long-term goals in mind when developing your workout routine. Of course, you should always check with your doctor before you take on a new workout regimen, and if possible, get help from a professional trainer if you’re unsure about how to complete certain exercises.
Why Stretches are Important for Golfing
Golfing is an activity that requires flexibility, strength, coordination, and albeit on a lesser extent; cardiovascular and muscular endurance. A limited range of motion will severely affect your ability to generate club speed. Strength is probably more important than range of motion when it comes to club speed, especially among aging golfers. Hip rotation, spinal rotation, and shoulder range of motion influence how far back the club starts and the length of your follow through.
Power will depend on the velocity of your swing while hitting the ball. Your range of motion in the trunk correlates with your ability to generate club head speed. Since the golf club typically has a limited amount of time to accelerate during your down swing, improving your degree of trunk rotation relative to your hips and your overall flexibility will help increase the distance that the club has to accelerate before hitting the ball.
Best Types of Stretches for Golf Performance
There are many factors that determine golf performance. In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine, the effects of dynamic, static, and no stretching on golf performance were examined after their inclusion as part of warm up. Golf performance was measured in terms of ball speed, club head speed, club face angle, and point of impact on the club head. Club head speeds were measured immediately after stretching, followed by 5 minutes, 15 minutes, and 30 minutes after stretching.
The conclusion of this study recommend that a good dynamic warmup is essential prior to a golf game in order to improve your performance.
Lumbar flexion in lying helps to stretch the following parts in the body:
• Erector Spinae
• Ligamentum flavum
• Intraspi nous ligaments and Supraspinous
• Posterior Longitudinal ligament
• Posterior elements of the disc
• Facet joint capsule
How to perform flexion in lying:
i. Lie down on your back
ii. Bend your knees in such a way that your feet are flat on your floor
iii. Next, hold both of your knees and then pull them up towards your chest slowly. In case you’re feeling discomfort in your knees while doing this, consider grabbing the back of your thighs. In case your abdomen gets in the way, spread your legs apart and then pull them up. During this stretch, keep your shoulders and neck relaxed and breath normally.
iv. Hold this position for 30 seconds
Note that you should only pull to the point of tension. Don’t pull into any bounce, pain, or force movement.
i. With your face facing down, lie on your bed or the floor
ii. Place your hands on your sides at the shoulder level as if you’re about to do a push up
iii. With your hips on the floor and your back relaxed, straighten your arms and push your shoulders up
iv. Exhale as you reach the top and have your mid back sag while exhaling
v. Lower yourself slowly to the starting position
vi. Don’t hold this position, simply repeat the up and down motion for about 10 times
Make sure that you have a gentle curve in your back while pushing up, with no severe curvatures on any location. You should only push to the point of tension as you keep your hips on the floor. Don’t force the movement or push into any bounce or pain.
This is an effective stretch done while sitting on the ground, depending on your pelvic positioning. For those who can maintain an anteriorly tilted pelvis and a straight back while performing this stretch, it gets significantly more effective.
How to perform a hamstring stretch:
i. Sit on the ground with your right leg in front of you and stretched out, while your left knee is bent in such a way that the foot faces your right knee.
ii. Keep your back straight and the chest up
iii. At the hips, bend forward until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh
iv. Hold the position for 30 or so seconds.
i. Kneel with your right knee and then put your left foot to the front
ii. In case this is uncomfortable with your knees, consider placing a rolled towel or cushion under your knee
iii. Place your hand on the right hip
iv. Lean forward as you push your right hip forward.
v. You should feel a stretch at the front of your right hip
vi. Hold the position for about 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side
i. Sit on the floor and place your knees apart with the bottom of your feet together
ii. Keep your back straight and chest up
iii. Bend forward at the hips while you keeping your pelvis anteriorly tilted (accentuate your lumbar lordosis)
iv. Apply some pressure on your knees gently while pushing them towards the floor
v. Hold this position for 30 seconds or more
These rotate the thigh around the pelvis area while also functionally rotating the pelvis around the weight bearing fixed thighs, just as with swinging a golf club.
For hip rotation stretches:
i. In a sitting position, cross your right leg over the left one such that your right ankle lies across your left thigh
ii. Place your right hand on the right thigh and then press down gently until you can feel some resistance
iii. Tilt forward around the hip area slowly while you exhale. Don’t forget to keep your chest up and the back straight. Avoid letting yourself hunch forward or lose the inward curvature around your lower back
iv. Stay in this position for an appropriate amount of time. 30 seconds is often enough
This is a great exercise for you to open your shoulders and improve the range of motion on your shoulder joint. It’s such a great stretch for athletes whose sport focuses on the arms, upper body, and shoulders. As a golfer, you should regard this as a core stretch for your warm ups before a round, and repeat the process as needed through the game.
To perform a shoulder stretch:
i. Hold a golf club in front of you with one hand gripping on each end of the club with on overhand grip
ii. Lift the club towards the front and up above your head with your elbows straight
iii. Stretch your shoulders slowly and move your head back as far as possible, until you feel tension across the fore part of your shoulders.
iv. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds and then release
v. Repeat this process for two or three times
vi. Take care not to go beyond your limits and increase the range of motion slowly
Forward Bend Standing Stretch
While this is a great stretch for most athletes, it’s particularly useful for golfers, tennis players, swimmers, baseball players, and racquetball. In fact, they should be integrated as a core stretching exercise for these sports.
i. Start by standing up straight with your shoulders back and relaxed
ii. Put your hands behind your back with your fingers interlaced
iii. Lift your shoulders towards the ears and lift your hands away from your back
iv. Bend forward slowly at your waist while keeping your back flat (not rounded)
v. Keep bending forward and then lift your hand over your head as far forward as you can
vi. Once you reach full stretch, you should feel tension in your hamstrings and shoulders
vii. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds and then release
viii. Repeat this for two or three times
The quads (quadriceps) are a group of muscles located along the front of the thigh. While there are so many ways to stretch your quads, there’s a simple exercise that you can do while standing:
i. Stand using one leg and grab onto something solid in case you need support
ii. Bend the knee and bring your heel towards the buttocks
iii. Using your hand, reach for the ankle
iv. Stand upright and you’ll feel a slight pull along the front of your hip and thigh
v. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, release, and then repeat with the other leg
Take care not to strain your knee – your goal should be not to touch your butt with your heel, but to stretch the thigh.
Standing IT Band Stretch
The IT (iliotibial) band is located outside of your hip and run all the way down to the side of your knee. It can become irritated when the knee and hip are flexed excessively. As a golfer, stretching this band can help to keep the hips limber.
i. Cross one leg behind the other one while standing
ii. Lean towards the opposite side until you can feel a stretch that crosses the affected IT band
iii. Hold this position for about 30 seconds
iv. Uncross your legs and then stand upright again
v. Repeat this process four more times and switch the sides.
Shoulder Horizontal Adduction
A tight posterior joint can limit your shoulder movement, and even cause the subacromial structures like the biceps tendon, supraspinatus tendon, and bursa to become impinged, resulting in bursitis or tendonitis. Performing this stretch shouldn’t cause any pain.
i. Sit on a chair upright with your chest up and head above your shoulders
ii. Raise the right elbow to reach the shoulder level and in a position in front of you
iii. With the palm down, let your right hand fall downwards
iv. Grab your right elbow with the left hand and then pull the elbow towards the opposite side
v. Pull the arm across as you exhale, making sure that your elbow doesn’t go beyond the shoulder level
vi. Hold this stretch for 30 or so seconds
Wrist Flexor Stretch
Tight wrist flexors could potentially pre-dispose you to a golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis. Repetitive use of these muscles in activities like tennis, gripping, golf or assembly line work could cause inflammation and microtearing. Wrist flexor stretching is a good stretch to do daily especially if you are often involved in any of these activities. The stretch shouldn’t cause any issues with pain, and if it does, you could have an issue with the tendons or muscles.
i. While sitting or standing, straighten your right arm in front of you, with the elbows straight and your palm facing upwards
ii. Grab your right hand below your wrist and above your knuckles and then pull your hand down
iii. You should start feeling a stretch in the flexor muscle group in front of the forearm
iv. Hold this position for 30 or so seconds
Wrist Extenson Stretch
The wrist extensors, especially the extensor carpi radialis brevis, can easily develop tennis elbow when they become tight. Using these muscles repetitively in activities such as tennis, typing, golf, or assembly line work can lead to inflammation. Hence, you should try to do this stretching daily if you’re involved in any of these activities.
i. While standing or sitting, straighten your right arm to the front with your elbow straight and palm facing down
ii. Grab the right hand above the knuckles and then pull the hand down
iii. With the elbow straight and hand down, pull the hand out of the way from the midline such that your fingers point to the right
iv. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds
This is not exactly a large movement, meaning you don’t need to force this stretch. Make sure that you keep your chin retracted while doing this stretch to dodge shearing forces that could arise in the joints around your cervical spine. Ideally, this stretch should focus on the muscles and soft tissues on the posterior part of your neck while not stressing the discs.
i. Stand upright with the head high and chest up
ii. Place one hand on your chin and then retract your head (not to have a double chin)
iii. Hold your head upright and don’t look down or up. Your eyes should be facing forward
iv. As you hold your chin back, use your other hand to reach over the top of your head
v. Stabilize the chin back as you pull the top of your head forward gently
vi. Do this stretch for 30 or so seconds
This is quite an easy stretch to do while standing, though you can still do it while sitting. A golf swing typically involves trunk rotation, which mainly occurs through your neck and thoracic spine.
i. Place the golf club lengthwise across your back and hook your hands around a golf club
ii. Rotate your head and trunk to the left and hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds
iii. Don’t bounce or swing into this stretch as this might put undue pressure on the ligaments and joints around your spine
iv. Repeat this on the other side
Take care to be a bit gentle on this stretch. Older individual might have a limited range of motion in this exercise.
i. Stand tall with your head high and chest up
ii. Place your left hand up over the shoulders and bring the elbow back, with the left elbow pointing to the ceiling
iii. Let the right hand pull your head forward gently to the right
iv. Hold this position for 30 or so seconds
i. Stand upright, about 3 feet from a wall
ii. Put both your hands on the wall with one on top of the other as high as possible
iii. Take a step back with one of your feet
iv. Bend over at the hips as you keep your chest up and the chin tucked in
v. Now take one deep breath and start exhaling slowly, letting your back sag towards the floor as you maintain your hands above your head on the wall
vi. Hold this position for 30 seconds
Pursuing a higher level of personal fitness to improve your golfing skills is something that’s certainly worth your effort and time. When you’re focused on improving your game, your will simultaneously be doing something that’s good for your overall life. before you get started, create a list of all your fitness goals and ensure they are in line with your goals on the golf course. Train diligently and you should see the results quickly.
Sore muscles and muscle strain are quite common injuries in golfing. Performing the golf stretches described above regularly will help to boost your level of flexibility and improve your range of motion, which should help you relax your swing better, improve your accuracy, raise your confidence, and give you a better ability to swing harder and faster.
Performing golf stretches regularly can also help to prevent the common golf injuries, which include herniated discs, back strain, shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, knee injuries, as well as hand and wrist injuries. Plus, even the most basic of golf stretches will help you feel better. However, glossing over them could cost you dearly.
Are these methods helpful to you? Let us know if you follow any of these stretches and find them useful. If you find something right, wrong, or even fail, let us know too. We shall reform it.
Don’t forget to let us know about any stretching exercises that really satisfied you and made you feel better, or even improved your game significantly. If you had already been doing some more methods that we didn’t mention in our post, kindly let us know in the comment section below.
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