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Stretching for Golf

golfBy Matt Purdy, RMT, Urban Health Group

 

We all know that warming up is important before any physical activity. However, what you may not know is that recent studies have shown that active/dynamic stretching is more effective pre-event than passive/static stretching. Active/dynamic stretching incorporates movement of the limb to be stretched; simultaneously lengthening and warming up the muscle, reducing muscle stiffness and improving the functional range of motion (ROM) of the targeted joints and muscles. With that in mind, here is a series of active stretches to do before you even touch a club, that will take you less than 10 minutes, and get you ready for your round.

 

Pre-Round

 

Pelvic Tilts

Begin by assuming an athletic position: legs shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Place your hands on your hip bones in order to feel the movement of your pelvis. Arch your lower back, creating an anterior pelvic tilt – the pointy part of your hip bones facing down towards the ground. Tuck your pelvis under your body, creating a posterior pelvic tilt – the pointy part of hip bones pointing up toward the sky. Make sure to try to maintain the position of your chest over your feet throughout the exercise without leaning forward nor backwards.

Repeat this 10 times.

 

Leg Swings

Begin by standing with your body weight loaded on on a single leg. Feel free to hold on to something – golf cart, tree or a friend – for stabilization. Then swing the non-weight bearing leg up in front of you, as if punting a ball. Try to keep your knee straight as to ensure a slight stretch to the hamstrings. Allow your legs to swing back down to the starting position. Repeat 10 times each leg. While assuming the same position, swing your leg backwards, allowing your knee to bend this time, attempting to kick your buttock with your heel. Repeat 10 time each leg.

Finally, while maintaining your weight on a single leg, swing the other leg laterally in front of you like a pendulum. Repeat 10 times each leg.

 

Shoulder Opening Swings

Stand comfortably. Bring one of your arms up in front of you at 90 degrees. Swing the arm out to the side, creating a 180 degree angle between your arm and chest. Then, swing your arm back across your chest, reaching across to the other side of your body. Repeat 10 times each arm.

Next, bring one of your arms down in front of you as if holding a club, keep your palm facing the midline of your body, thumbs pointing straight forward. Then swing your arm up toward your side, as far as you comfortably can, without rotating your body. Then swing in back down, and slightly through, the starting position. Repeat 10 times each arm.

 

Trunk Rotations

Stand comfortably with both of your arms straight out in front of you, palms together. While maintaining this arm position, rotate through your trunk as far as you can toward the right. Your hands should be pointing to the right and your feet should still be facing forward. Rotate back to the starting position. Then rotate your trunk towards the left. Rotate back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Finally, while keeping your hands in front of you, bend your knees slightly and bend forward at the hip to 90 degrees, pointing your hands down toward the ground. This will allow you to create a rotation the happens primarily through your Thoracic spine – your mid back. While maintaining this position, rotate towards your right, bringing your right hand up as far as you comfortably can and leaving your left hand behind at its original position. Rotate back to the starting position bringing your hands back together in the middle. Then, rotate to the left in the same fashion. Repeat 10 times.

 

During

 

Golf allows for a fair amount of time between swings, especially at the tee box. This presents the perfect opportunity to perform a few stretches in order to stay loose. There are no specific stretches that you need to be performing, however, it is a good idea to check in with yourself and stretch any muscles that may feel like they are starting to tighten up.

It’s important to try to maintain a muscular balance throughout your round. Due to the fact that you swing the same way – right or left – throughout the round, your body will naturally start to tighten up in the direction of your swing. The waiting time at the tee boxes provides the opportunity to balance your body out to prevent the one sided tightness that often accompanies one-sided rotational sports. Try this: take out a club and try swinging it the opposite way a few times. It will probably feel weird but it will help to reduce tightness in the muscles that have been used repetitively throughout your round and maintain a better muscular balance on both sides of your body.

 

Post-Round

After putting out for your final birdie on 18 and before folding yourself into your car to go home, it is important to hydrate and to do a few more stretches. Although golf is not a high intensity sport, many of your muscles, especially in your legs and hips were working hard to stabilize your body through every swing, which means they have tightened up. Now is a good time to give them a little stretch to tell them you are all done for the day and they can relax. At this we just want to lengthen the muscles a bit to help them return to a healthy resting state, so static stretches are appropriate. Start by stretching your shoulders in both internal and external rotation – standing with your shoulders raised to 90 degrees at your sides and your elbows bent at 90 degrees as well, rotate your arms so your hands point down toward the ground for 30 seconds, then rotate the other way so that your hand point up toward the sky for 30 seconds. Next, pull your arm across your chest in order to stretch your posterior shoulder and arm. You will then want to stretch your legs, starting with your hamstrings and quadriceps. Then by moving on to your IT bands, by crossing your stretch leg behind your other leg and pushing your hip out over your stretch leg. Finally, finish by stretching your calves, lunging forward with your stretch leg behind and pressing your heel down to the ground.

Have fun out on the Links and remember to stay hydrated as the weather continues to get warmer!

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