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Hitting The Links: A Golfing Warm-up to Reduce Injury and Improve Performance

Matt Pitton, DPT, ATC

As the weather warms up, many of us long to get outside and hit the links! Golf is a great way to get outside and fit in some exercise.

But as with any outdoor sport, golfing poses some risk of injury and strain. A proper golfing warm-up will help you reduce the risk of injury before you even step up to the first tee.

The added benefit of a golfing warm-up is that it can even reduce mis-hits and help you improve your golf score. Recent studies have shown dynamic stretching and light band exercises can increase both power and shot distance. As everyone knows, even a few incremental improvements to your golf performance can make a significant difference to your game.

Matt Pitton, a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Athletic Trainer at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, has a passion for golf. He loves playing the game in his leisure time and working to help people return to their sport of interest.

Here, Dr. Pitton shares an example of an ideal golfing warm-up routine. While this routine could work for many different sports, it’s tailored specifically to the needs of golfers. This routine is a perfect quick way to warm-up before your round of 9 or 18 holes on the course. 


Before you even take your first swing on the golf course, it’s best to take 5-10 minutes to perform a few simple stretches. Stretching correctly, warming up, and hydrating are essential to keep you healthy and safe during any physical activity. These seven easy golfing stretches will ensure that you’re adequately warmed up and ready to hit the course. 

1. Toe Touches

Start your golfing warm-up with some simple toe-touches. Bend forward and reach fingers towards toes. Start the toe touches with a small motion and increase the movement with each repetition, as you are able. 

2. Squats

Squats are another great way to get your body ready for your golf game. To do a squat, slightly squat down, like you are sitting back into a chair, and then return to a standing position.

3. Lunges (front, back, side)

Lunges in all directions are a great golfing warm-up. You can start by making some front lunges and then move to back, and finally, side lunges to complete this exercise.

Front: Start the round with front lunges. Step forward with one foot, bend your knee slightly and step back. Repeat with the other leg.

Back: Continue doing backward lunges. Step backward with one foot, and bend the other knee slightly. Step back to standing straight. Repeat with the other leg.

Side: Complete the golfing warm-up round with side lunges. Step out to the side with one leg, bending your knee slightly. Return to a standing position. Repeat with the other leg. 

4. Hip Swings (front/back and side/side)

Hip swings are a great pre-golf move. Stand on one leg and swing the other leg straight forward and then backward. Then, swing your leg straight side-to-side. Repeat the hip swings with your other leg. You can use a golf club to help with maintaining your balance on one leg. 

5. Upper Trunk Rotation

In golf, your upper trunk sees a lot of rotation, so a pre-golf trunk warm-up is a great idea. To do this easy move, hold your driver in front of you with both hands. Rotate your arms and upper back to one side, and then rotate to the other side. 

6. Full Body Rotation

To do a full body rotation, start by holding your driver in front of you with both hands. Rotate your arms and upper back, along with your lower back and into your legs, to simulate a full golf swing. Then rotate to the opposite side.

7. Band exercises (“T” & Press and Rotate)

“T”: To do the “T” band exercise, you’ll use a body band (a large rubber band, commonly found where you purchase exercise equipment). Hold the band in front of your body. Bring your arms apart to make a ‘T’ with your arms, stretching the band. Return your arms to the front position.

Press and Rotate: Wrap the exercise band around your upper back and hold it in your hands. Press arms forward against the band and rotate to one side to simulate a golf swing. Keep pressing and rotate to the other side.


After you’ve adequately stretched by using the golfing warm-up routine above, it’s time to hit the driving range! 

Get in a few practice swings before you start your round. To practice, start with your high irons (9-iron or pitching wedge) and work your way down to your lower irons, eventually getting to your driver or woods. Start your pre-game practice with easy golf swings and small motions and work your way up to bigger movements as you warm up.

If you really want to improve your golf game, be sure to use mental imagery during your practice. Envision what the swing should look like and focus on each shot as you warm-up. Mental imagery can help you focus and play even better.

No matter what, it’s crucial to avoid injury during your golf game. Remember that all warm-up exercises should be pain-free and comfortable. If you notice any discomfort or areas of concern, consult with your doctor or physical therapist. 

If you have pain or weakness limiting your golf game, we are here to help. Contact a therapist at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin at 414-961-6880 to get you back in the game.

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