Some of the best stretching exercises for golf include focusing on the hips, back, and shoulders which are the main joints and muscle areas we should be concerned about in our golf game.
FIRST, let's look at the hips.
If the hips are tight, especially the hip flexors, this can contribute to being bent or hunched forward at the waist.
Tight hips can limit your ability to achieve a full backswing due to the restriction in the hip flexors that allow the trunk to turn.
Tightness in this area contributes to the low back pain that some golfers feel after they play.
The best hip stretching exercises for golf in your pre-game warmup:
1. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and hands on your hips, begin to rotate your pelvis in circles.
2. Start small and progressively get larger for 12-15 rotations.
Second, let's look at the back.
Restricted spinal rotation will result in excessive internal shift and rotation of the hips during the backswing and follow-through.
The shoulder is often overused to compensate for the restricted spinal rotation.
When the spine can't fully rotate, coil action is limited which results in overuse of the arms to compensate.
This can be a source of golfer's elbow.
The best back stretching exercises for golf in your pre-game warmup:
Using your golf club across your shoulders as you do this spinal rotation stretch can be helpful as shown below. Or follow the instructions listed.
1. Standing with good posture, raise one arm in front of you.
2. Keeping your feet planted and hips facing forward rotate your trunk looking over your shoulder as far as you can.
3. Repeat on the other side moving slowly and continuously for 6-8 repetitions trying to rotate a little more each time.
Note: If you have spinal stenosis or degenerative disk disease in your spine you should allow your hips to rotate with you as you turn.
THIRD, let's look at the shoulders.
If you have tightness or restriction in the muscles affecting your right shoulder and you are a right-handed golfer your follow-through will be distorted.
This will also affect the alignment of the clubface at impact which, in turn, will affect the direction of your ball.
If you have tightness or restriction in the muscles affecting the left shoulder your backswing may be disrupted.
The best shoulder stretching exercises for golf in your pre-game warmup:
1. Standing or side-lying with your knees bent up towards your chest.
2. Extend both arms out to the side and pretend the top one is the hand on a clock.
3. Move your arm around in a circle clockwise and then counterclockwise.
Repeat 5-8 times each direction.
If this bothers the shoulder joint with the arm fully extended you may bend it at the elbow.
1. Focus on Core Strength to Improve your Golf
The muscles stemming from the chest down to the pelvic area involve the “core” or torso of the body.
Think of the trunk of the body as the solid, stable force from which all other body parts can move. If this area is weak and not conditioned properly our extremities such as the legs and arms cannot function optimally with ease and efficiency.
The abdominal muscles involving the superficial rectus abdominus, the deeper tranverse abdominals, and the side obliques all involve some aspect of stabilizing the spine for the twisting and side bending action involved with golf.
Practicing Pilates-based exercises on the mat or equipment successfully conditions your core in all of these planes of movement.
As you wok to stabilize the core you can simultaneously move the extremities of the body such as the arms and legs through corrective and efficient hip and joint mobilization.
2. Strengthening and Stretching Exercises for Golf
Think of your muscles as a rubber band, when they are not being worked but are just resting they are resilient and pliable.
When you stretch that rubber band out it becomes more vulnerable to forces acting upon it. One prick and it could go shooting across the room. Not that your muscle would go shooting across the room but it may become injured or tear if it was weak when elongated.
If you have strength without flexibility when hitting a golf ball you may just have to walk farther into the rough to get the ball.
If you have flexibility without strength you may keep the ball on the fairway, but then not have as far to walk. With this in mind you can see now why it is important to combine these two components to improve your golf game with consistency.
The best way I have found, and many of the golf pros as well, is to practice Pilates exercises which utilizes spring tension to combine strengthening while stretching exercises for golf at the same time.
Pilates for golf is becoming more popular as many of the pros are finding out the benefits of this precise and focused strengthening exercise program
Without proper posture and spinal alignment in the body your center of gravity will be off and cause inconsistency in yourscores.
Increased kyphosis (rounded shoulders) in the upper or thoracic area of the spine restricts rotation in the torso causing faulty swing mechanics. No matter how well trained you may be, you will always have some distortion and inconsistency in your golf swing plane.
To decrease your risk for injury, improve motor programming, and, in turn your swing plane, align yourself properly at address.
Good postural alignment and muscle balance involves a straight or neutral spine. Make sure as you hinge forward at the waist to keep your chest open, abdominal muscles drawn in and then feel like you are poking your butt out to sit in a chair.
4. Warm-Up for Golf to Improve your Consistency
Your warm-up or pre-event stretching exercises for golf should be dynamic in nature, which means with movement.
Focus on the spine, hips, and shoulders as stated above. The brain is constantly monitoring the changing length of the muscles as you do your warm-up, so you need to slowly but steadily move in and out of your stretches until you loosen up.
Pilates exercise sequences are based on this smooth flowing but exacting movements.
5. Fuel your Body
Good nutrition is our body’s fuel. If it is running on low it will not perform optimally. Make sure to eat properly and within a couple of hours of your golf game if you hope to perform at your best.
Remember also, our muscles are over 80% water and if they are not hydrated they are like a rubber band that was left out in the sun dried out and easily cracked. Like the rubber band, your muscles without water will not be as pliable and will be more prone to injuries.
Drink plenty of water and electrolyte drinks to stay hydrated and if you are out playing golf for longer than 2 hours it will help keep your muscles loose and pliable.
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