6 Pre-Round Golf Stretches to Warm Your Body Up
Stretching is one of the most important and often most overlooked aspects of golf preparation. Under-stretching not only leads to injury, it also affects golf performance more than most folks realize.
How Stretching Affects the Golf Swing
From head to toe, dozens of muscles are involved in a well-executed golf swing. How efficiently those muscles work together is what ultimately creates power, more than just muscle mass alone. 2021 Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa weighs just 160 pounds but consistently drives the ball over 300 yards. Rising star Will Zalatoris has a very slim frame at 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds but is also a big hitter.
A successful golf swing is more about the efficient transfer of power than strength. A disruption in the transfer caused by tight muscles takes yards off your shot. When muscles are warmed up and stretched, the transfer of power is smooth and efficient. Picture a garden hose with a kink. The faucet is turned on full force but only a fraction of the water reaches your lawn.
Common Injuries in Golf
Back pain is the most common injury for golfers. The twisting and torquing of a golf swing puts a tremendous amount of strain on the lumbar region of your back. What starts as soreness can lead to something more debilitating like herniated discs. Keeping the back loose and stretched is vital to continued golf success.
The shoulder is the second biggest problem area for golfers. This ball-and-socket joint is the least stable by design to allow for a big range of motion. That instability can lead to rotator cuff tears, hyperextension and labral tears if the surrounding muscles are tight and not supporting the joint properly.
Other common golf injuries occur at the knees, elbows and wrists where tendonitis affects overused joints. Regular stretching can ease some of this wear and pain.
Two Ways to Stretch
First and foremost, it is important to remember that you should stretch before and after your golf round. Stretching can occur in two ways – static or dynamic. Static stretches are held for 30 to 60 seconds in one fixed position. They are the best stretch for after your round when muscles are already warm and active. With static stretches, it is important to not overextend the stretch. You should feel the stretch but not pain.
Dynamic stretches involve motion like bouncing or swinging that helps gradually increase range of motion. It is best to use dynamic stretches before your golf round so muscles have time to gradually warm up and extend. Remember that the motion in dynamic stretches should also be smooth and controlled.
6 Types of Golf Stretches
Let’s take a look at six easy stretches for improved golf performance:
Hold your putter with both hands at arm’s length in front of your body. Slowly twist from side to side in controlled motions, gradually increasing your range of motion. This stretch really loosens the lower back and hips. Duration: 30 seconds to one minute.
Place a club behind your head with arms outstretched to the sides. Drape hands over the club and bend knees. Slowly twist the body to the left while pivoting the right foot. Repeat on the right side. As you progress with the stretch, look farther over the shoulder for more extension. This is a great stretch for the entire back, shoulders and quads. Duration: 10 stretches per side.
This stretch helps loosen the muscles of the rotator cuff. Grasp hands behind the lower back, arms extended. Keep your back straight and slowly raise hands. You will feel the stretch in the front of your shoulders. Duration: 30 seconds, relax and repeat three times.
Keep feet shoulder-width apart and hold your putter at arm’s length, extended from chest. Slowly bend knees and lower your buttocks while raising the club above your head. Knees should not track in front of your feet. This stretch works many muscles in your back, legs, shoulders and hips. Duration: 10 squats.
Wrist Flexor Stretch
This stretch is effective for the wrist and elbow. Hold right arm extended in front of your body. Use the left hand to bend back the opposite hand and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other hand. Duration: 10 stretches per side.
Calves are not a muscle you think about in your golf swing until you tweak one. For this stretch, you’ll need a wall or golf cart to lean on. Place hands flat on the wall and lean forward, bending your left knee. Extend your right foot back and keep your heel on the ground. As your muscles loosen, push your hips forward and slightly bounce so that you can feel the stretch in your back calf. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with other leg. Duration: Five stretches per side.
Add Strength Training to Further Enhance Stretching
Strength training of muscles goes hand-in-hand with stretching for healthy movement of active bodies. Consider adding a light strength training program – along with effective stretching – to improve your golf swing and cut down on injuries.
Image created by Nick Frazier/LovetoKnow Media