Strengthen Your Golf Swing: The Best Warm-Up Stretches for Spring Golf
Spring is here, and getting back to golf is top of mind for many people. If you haven’t been active this winter, you may be a bit out of practice. Grabbing your clubs without a warmup isn’t always the best idea. Before you head back to the range, practicing some of the best golf warm-up stretches will prevent soreness, reduce your risk for injury, and strengthen your golf swing.
At the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, we want to help you play your best. Paul Rossman, PT, of Shorewood Physical Therapy recommends incorporating a few simple stretches and core activation activities to get you ready for a great season of golf.
Full Body Approach
While you may feel that golf is more relaxing than a more cardio-intensive activity, that doesn’t mean your body isn’t being put to work. Your entire body from your head to your feet is actively engaged with each swing. Because of this, it’s important you practice the best golf warm-up stretches for each active muscle group. If one area of your body lacks the strength and conditioning necessary for your swing, other areas of your body may be overworked. This is what can lead to pain, soreness, or injury. A whole-body approach to your exercise regime is necessary to enjoy a successful and pain-free golf outing.
Start From The Top: Head and Neck
Your head position is vital to your golf swing setup. If your head is stuck forward in front of your chest, it will lead to a rounded shoulder posture. This could lead to shoulder pain and/or shoulder impingement. Incorporate chin and neck exercises to loosen the muscles that will help you maintain proper head position.
Middle Back and Ribs
Your thoracic spine, or the rib cage area, is also an important area for an effective and safe golf swing. When this area gets stiff, you cannot safely rotate. This may lead to a lack of take away and follow through with your golf swing and a loss of distance.
Losing flexibility in this area is common with age and improper posture. When this area is not able to move with ease, your low back will overcompensate. This can lead to disaster with disc issues and back pain.
Low Back: Everybody’s Nemesis
The low back is an essential area to strengthen for an effective golf swing. Many people will experience back pain after a long round of golf. The back is not made to continuously repeat the motion required for golf of flexing forward, rotating, leaning, and extending. This is why physical therapists, athletic trainers, and golf professionals preach the importance of flexibility and core strength. A strong and flexible core allows for more controlled motion and will decrease the stress caused by repeated rotation. Remember to breathe with any abdominal exercise to help keep blood pressure down.
- Low Back Chin to Chest Stretch
- Child’s Pose Stretch
- Cat-Cow Stretch
- Supine Pelvic Tilt Exercise
- Curl Up Exercise
Hip Flexibility Helps
Just like thoracic spine flexibility helps with golf swing power and decreasing low back injuries, the flexibility of the hips and legs is just as important. Flexibility in the hip flexors and hip external rotators allow for a strong and safe golf swing follow-through. Tightness in these two muscle groups will lead to stress on the low back. Focusing on the hips will be especially important if your muscles are tight due to low activity levels and prolonged sitting over the winter.
- Hip Flexor Lunge
- Hip Flexor Bed Stretch
- Seated Hip Stretch / Seated Figure Four
- Figure Four Stretch
- Supine Leg Stretch
- Standing Hamstring Stretch
General Conditioning Improves Health
Another important thing to consider before hitting the golf range is to incorporate a conditioning program into your workout routine. It can be as simple as incorporating a simple walk or involve using basic gym equipment like an elliptical or stationary bike. Getting your heart rate up and blood pumping over 100 bpm several times throughout the week will do wonders for your ability to complete the exercise mentioned above.
While incorporating a few of the stretches and exercises above is important, don’t feel like you need to do every single movement mentioned. When you try them out, you may find 4 or 5 exercises that you feel work the best for your body. Start simple and try a few stretches 2 to 3 times per week. Work your way up from there. And as always, if something doesn’t feel right, do not do it. Gentle golf warm-up stretches held for longer are always the safest route and none of the exercises mentioned above should cause any pain.
We hope the exercises above will help to prepare you for a long and enjoyable season of golf without injury or pain. If you experience pain for any reason or have an injury that is preventing you from enjoying a round of golf, do not hesitate to make an appointment with our team of talented orthopedic specialists today. We can help get you back on track to enjoying your favorite activities without pain.