TOP FIVE STRECTHES BEFORE YOU TEE OFF
Whether you are a casual golfer or a professional, we all have our pre-round routine. Some of us like to get to the course early to practice on the putting green, and some of us are running to the first hole as our tee time is starting. What we don’t often think about is what we are doing, or not doing, before our round and how it is affecting our play. How many of us are actually stretching before we tee off? Most golfers get a few practice swings in and by the 5th hole they finally feel “loose.” If we prioritized stretching as part of our pre-round routine, we would walk to the first hole already warmed up. Stretching has many life benefits and is important, and often overlooked, in golf as well. Engaging specific muscle groups before your round will not only increase your range of motion, but it was decrease your risk of injury. Today, we will cover 5 stretches to do once you get to the course to improve your game. All you need is 15 minutes before you tee off!
1) Trunk Rotations with Golf Club
Golf requires a great amount of rotation through our backswing and follow-through. If we lack mobility in one area, most likely we will compensate elsewhere. The Trunk Rotation stretch will isolate the thoracic spine, which is important for rotation throughout our swing. If we lack mobility in this area, our low back will pick up the slack increasing injury risk. Proper thoracic mobility will allow for a smoother swing and ultimately increase our club head speed.
Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Place a club along your chest horizontally with your hands crossed and resting on your shoulders. Rotate through your upper body until you feel a strong, comfortable stretch in your mid-to-upper back. Keep your feet planted and do not rotate through your hips. Be sure to breath throughout the stretch. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times on each side.
2) Good Mornings with Golf Club
We often don’t think of our hamstrings when we talk about our swing. The truth is, our hamstrings play an important roll in our stance by helping with the initial hip “hinge” in the set-up of our swing. Anatomically, our hamstrings attach to our pelvis. If this area is tight, it will rotate our pelvis backwards and pull on our back. This will directly affect our posture in our swing as well as put unwanted stress on our low back. Proper hamstring flexibility will increase the range of motion in our hips and help with a more fluid swing.
To complete the Good Morning stretch, start by placing your golf club behind your shoulders horizontally, holding the club with your hands slightly further than shoulder width. Step with one-foot forward and push your heel into the ground, keeping your leg straight. Keep your back straight and hinge through your hips until a stretch is felt through the back of the front leg. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times on each side.
3) Hip Flexor Stretch with Golf Club
Hip range of motion plays a critical role in how we swing. If our hips are tight, it will directly affect how much speed and power we generate through our swing. Every time we set-up in our golf stance, we shorten our hip flexors. They are also shortened when we sit in the golf cart, which is why it is important to keep this area stretched.
To complete the Standing Hip Flexor stretch, start by stepping forward with one leg and your golf club on the opposite side for balance. Your front leg should be bent and your back leg straight. It is important to maintain proper pelvis positioning. Think about tilting your pelvis back so there is no arch in your low back. Maintain your tilt and lunge forward until a stretch is felt along the front of the leg that is back. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times on each side.
4) Wrist Flexor Stretch Fingers Up
The wrist and forearm are often an area overlooked when thinking of stretches for golf. Our wrists control the club throughout our swing and keep our clubface square. If this area, and the surrounding muscles are tight, this can affect the accuracy of our shot. Stretching this area can also prevent overuse injuries that are often related to golf, such as “golfers elbow.”
For the Wrist Flexor stretch, reach one arm out in front of you at shoulder height. Keep your elbow locked and fingers pointed upward. Use your opposite hand to pull your fingers toward your body and pointed at the ceiling. You will feel a pull through the bottom part of your forearm. Do not jam on your wrist and make sure to stretch to a point that is strong, but comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times on each side.
5) Squats with Golf Club
The last part of our pre-round stretching routine consists of body weight squats. Squats target large muscle groups such as our quads and glutes, which is important for distance and power in our swing. If these areas are tight or weak, we will compensate through our back and increase the risk of injury. Squats also target our back extensors, which help keep us upright and in proper posture. Body weight squats are a great exercise to get the blood flowing and prepare you for the round ahead.
To complete Body Weight Squats, start by standing tall with feet shoulder width apart and pointing forward. Place your club horizontally across your shoulders and cross your arms with your elbows at shoulder height. While maintaining upright posture and club positioning, slowly descend your hips toward the ground. Act as if you are going to tap your bottom on a chair behind you to keep your weight from shifting forward. Drive up with your legs and return back into your starting position. Repeat 10-15 times.
Stretching is important for overall health and well-being and to maintain flexibility and range of motion. Prioritize getting to the golf course 15 minutes early and adding in this stretching routine. Follow this up with a few practice swings and you’ll be on your way to an improved round of golf!
Pat Sturdahl worked in an outpatient physical therapy setting for over seven years. He enjoys working with clients to help improve their mobility, stability and strength. Pat has experience working with local high school teams where he previously ran “Speed Schools.” This training focused on sport specific movements and plyometric drills.