Want to play your best golf – and give yourself the best chance of avoiding injury? Incorporating simple stretches into your warmup routine can help on both counts.
The illustrations and text in this package that follow are excerpted from the book, “Dr. Divot’s Guide to Golf Injuries” by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Larry Foster. These excerpts appear with the permission of Dr. Foster and Doctor Divot Publishing, Inc., and may not be reproduced without the permission of same.
DR. LARRY FOSTER’S OPTIMUM GOLF WARMUP STRETCHING ROUTINE
In an optimum golf warmup routine, stretching follows a quick aerobic “sweat breaker” and precedes progressive swinging (making practice or driving range swings with shorter clubs first, working your way up to woods).
I prefer a “head-to-toe” approach to stretching, because it provides a way for me to remember to include all the major muscle groups in sequence. Hold each stretch for fifteen to twenty seconds. Avoid stretching beyond the point of pain, and never bounce to stretch. Stretch one side of the body, then the other. Repeat the stretches three or four times for each side.
On the following pages we’ll look at some stretches you can use as part of a proper golf warmup.
Turn your head all the way to the left and hold. You can add a little more stretch by pushing your chin with your fingertips. Repeat for the right side.Neck Flexion
Pretend you are looking at a spot of mustard on your shirt. Flex your neck to bring your chin as close to your chest as you can go and hold.
Lateral Neck Stretch
Looking straight ahead, cock your head to the left as if you were trying to bring your left ear to your shoulder (don’t cheat by shrugging your shoulder up to meet your ear). Repeat for the right side.
Shoulder and Chest Stretches
Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Pretend you have an itch between your shoulder blades. Hold your left arm across your body and grab the back of your left elbow with your right hand. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can so that your left fingertips can reach your upper back. Repeat for the right shoulder.Anterior Shoulder and Chest Stretch
Hold a club with both hands behind your back, elbows extended. Now stick out your chest while you raise the club back away from your body and hold.
Forearm and Wrist Stretches
Hold your left arm out in front of you with your elbow locked straight. Now take your right hand and bend (flex) your left wrist and hand as far down as they will go and hold (remember to keep your elbow straight). Now repeat the stretch but this time turn your left palm up and use your right hand to extend the left wrist as far as they will go. Repeat for the right side. This exercise loosens the wrists and also prevents tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow so don’t skimp here.
Lateral Back Stretch
Hold a club with both hands over your head. Keeping your pelvis steady, bend as far as you can to the left and hold. Slowly return to the upright position and repeat to the right side.
This stretches the lower back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend forward at the waist and try to touch your toes. There is a huge degree of variation among people regarding how far they can go, so don’t feel bad if you can’t reach all the way to your toes. Remember not to bounce. If you have a bad back you can sit on a bench and lean over to touch your toes instead.
Lower Back/Trunk Rotation
I prefer to do this one sitting down. You can use the golf cart seat or a bench. Pretend you’re driving to the Grand Canyon while your kids have been arguing in the back seat for six hours straight and you are going to now yell at them. Keeping your hips facing forward, rotate your body all the way to the left, look over your shoulder and hold. If you like, you can grab hold of the back of the bench or seat. Repeat for the right side. Saying “Do I have to stop this car?” is optional.
Stand upright and place your left foot on the golf cart or bench. Now bend forward at the waist while keeping your back straight. Repeat for the right side.
Pretend you stepped in some chewing gum and you are checking the bottom of your shoe. Stand with your feet close together. Now grab your left ankle behind you and flex your knee as far as it will go and hold (your left heel should hit your buttocks). Repeat for the right side. If necessary, hold on to the golf cart or a tree for balance. To get the most out of this stretch, keep the trunk straight and avoid leaning forward.
Pretend you are a sword fighter about to thrust at your opponent. Stand with your right foot about eighteen inches in front of your left foot. Keep your left heel on the ground as you lean forward, flexing your right knee as you go. You will feel a stretch in your left calf muscles. Repeat for the right side. If necessary, you can hold on to the golf cart or a tree for balance as you lean forward.