Pre-Golf Stretches: The Secret to Better Mobility & Reduced Injury

Apr 06, 2023
golf swing

Golf is a sport that requires a dynamic combination of skill, strength, and flexibility. You have to produce enormous amounts of force with pinpoint precision in order to maintain club face, flight path, and follow through. One of the best ways to help you do this is by performing some pre-golf stretches even before hitting your first ball on the range

Whether a golfer warms up before they play is significantly associated with their risk of injury. A study of over 300 recreational golfers reported that less than 20% of them did any sort of warm-up prior to play or practice (does this sound like you?). That number dropped to as low as 10% in golfers who had sustained an injury in the last 12 months. That’s what we call a correlation!

For how much we all love getting out on the green, it’s a bit unfortunate that the majority of us struggle to incorporate a short routine (literally less than 10 minutes) that is proven to make a huge difference in our game. The trade off is a significantly reduced risk of sustaining an injury that could keep us from playing for weeks, or even months, on end. 

In this article you’re going to learn the importance of incorporating pre-golf stretches into your routine, and what it will do for your health and golf game overall.

Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching for Golfers

The odd time you do see someone warming up around the clubhouse, it’s often in the form of a static, also called passive, stretch. This means going into a stretched position and holding it for an extended period of time. The classic touching your toes, pulling your arm across your body, or propping your foot up on a bench and leaning towards it kind of stretching.

The Problem With Static Stretching for Golfers

Just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean it’s right. While these kinds of holds are commonly seen, they’re actually incredibly detrimental to your golf performance. A growing body of evidence has shown that static stretching negatively impacts power output if done immediately prior to activity. 

Golf is a high-power, short-duration sport. The last thing we want is to have a relaxed and lazy group of muscles trying to swing a weighted implement (the club) at maximum speeds. Holding muscles at end ranges deadens their neural response, which basically means they can’t fire as quickly and aren’t as strong. This is a recipe for injury and poor performance in golf.

The Benefits of Dynamic Stretching for Golfers

Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, does just the opposite. This basically means stretching through movement. You’re never just holding a certain position, but are actively moving through different ranges of motion. By incorporating the right movements into your warm up, you’ll be more closely mimicking the real-life activity you’re about to perform out on the course.

Compared to static stretching and non-stretching control groups, golfers who performed dynamic stretches prior to play achieved greater club head speeds, greater ball speed, straighter swing paths, and more central impact points. People will pay thousands of dollars at resorts and country clubs to improve their game, when they could be doing it for free with a five minute warm up.

Golf is an incredibly powerful and dynamic sport, just look at the twisting of this woman's spine, hips, and shoulder girdle as she follows through on a swing. (Image credit: lichtmeister/Adobe Stock)

Pre-golf Stretches for Your Warm Up

A good warm up will raise the heart rate, increase blood flow to your tissues, and facilitate nerve transmission and motor unit recruitment. In simple terms, you’ll be psychologically ready to play, and your muscles will be warm and ready to turn on quickly for explosive power and fine-tuned controlled movements.

This can only be done one way, and that’s through movement. The following are some dynamic pre-golf stretches that you can include in your warm up to get ready for the absolute best games of your career.

Dynamic Side Lunge

  Instructions:

  1. Step wide with one leg out to the side
  2. Draw the belly button in to engage the core
  3. Push the hips back and bend down onto the knee you stepped out with
  4. Go as low as the strength of your leg and flexibility in your groin allows
  5. Push back up to standing, and step your leg back in
  6. Repeat with the same leg for 30 seconds
  7. Switch to the other leg, perform for another 30 seconds

The dynamic side lunge engages all the muscles in your hips, groin, and around your knee. You get a nice active stretch on the adductors (groin muscles, inside of thigh) of the outstretched leg. These muscles are important for the stabilization and rotation of your hip and torso through something called the anterior oblique system.

Dynamic Side Bend w/Golf Club

  Instructional:

  1. Stand with your feet hip distance apart
  2. Take one of your clubs and raise it overhead with a wide grip
  3. Gently bend to one side while pushing your hips in the opposite direction
  4. Be sure not to fold forward or backward, only sideways
  5. Feel a stretch in your hip and midsection
  6. Engage your core muscles to pull you back up to standing, then bend to the other side
  7. Repeat for 45 seconds

Your oblique (side abdominal) muscles and quadratus lumborum (a deep lower back muscle) are huge force generators while the club is swinging. This movement stretches them on the opposite side to which you’re bending, and then engages the same ones as you pull yourself back up to a standing position.

Dynamic Shoulder Squeeze

 
Instructions:

  1. Bend your arms to 90° with the palms facing forward and upper arm (biceps) at shoulder height
  2. Your elbows should be resting in front of your torso in the start position
  3. From here, pull your elbows back behind you, squeezing your shoulder blades and upper back together
  4. Depending on your mobility, your elbows should (or be trying to) reach behind you
  5. Pause for a brief second, squeezing everything in your shoulders and back, then return to the starting position
  6. Repeat for 45 seconds

Shoulder problems are common amongst golfers, and it’s usually due to a lack of engagement from other supporting muscles. As a result, the shoulder tries to generate all the power that should be coming from your hips, core, and back. This movement engages those stabilizing muscles in your upper back and shoulder, while at the same time stretching the chest.

Dynamic Star

  Instructions:

  1. Start in a star shape, feet wide, toes forward, arms straight out to the sides at shoulder height
  2. Rotate to one side and then hinge at the hips to reach the opposite arm down to the opposite toe
  3. Be sure to twist everything in your spine and shoulders to reach down
  4. Keep your legs as straight as possible to feel a stretch in the back of the legs
  5. Twist back up to the start position, and repeat in the opposite direction
  6. Repeat for 45 seconds

The dynamic star opens up your hamstrings (back of the thigh) while at the same time twisting the entire spine and preparing it for the swings you’re about to perform. Integrating the two is important for complex movements like swinging a club, because the synchronous contraction of your muscles is one of the most important factors when it comes to injury prevention.

Dynamic Step & Reach

 

Instructions:

  1. Take a step forward with one leg so you’re in a split stance, both toes pointing forward
  2. Come up onto the ball of your back foot
  3. Tuck your hips under by squeezing your glutes to rotate the pelvis backwards, hold this position in the hips (which supports the low back)
  4. Lift the arms up overhead and gently arch backwards, maintaining your hip position
  5. Pause for a split second when you’ve reached as far as you can
  6. Bring your arms back down and step your feet back together
  7. Step forward with the other leg and repeat
  8. Alternate back and forth for 45 seconds

This gentle movement is another great way to mobilize the spine, shoulders, abdominals and hips. One of the biggest benefits of this kind of movement is it involves the whole body working together. Showing your body some mild low back extension and hip/abdominal opening will make your swing feel smooth and controlled when you get out on the course.

Improve Your Golf Game with Dynamic Golfers!

Dynamic Golfers is an online training platform with a massive library of follow-along routines and programming designed for golfers just like you to take their game to the next level. There are videos for injury prevention, mobility, strength and conditioning and so much more! Try us out for FREE on a 7-day trial by clicking here.

Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

The Importance of Golf Fitness Training

May 22, 2024

Tips for Clearing the Hips in the Golf Swing

May 15, 2024

How to Create the Perfect Golf Backswing

Mar 29, 2024

3 Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises for Golfers

Mar 18, 2024