We’ve all heard that a proper warm up is important before exercise, and that skipping it can lead to injury. As physical therapists, one of the more common places we see people skipping warm ups or doing them improperly is at the golf course. For many golfers, the warm up is carrying the golf bag from the trunk of the car to the cart. For others hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range or taking some practice swings is a warm up.
The golf swing is a complex, full body motion that puts a lot of force through the bones, muscles, and ligaments. Jumping straight into swinging a club without properly preparing those bones, muscles, and ligaments puts golfers at risk for injury. A good rule of thumb to help you remember what a proper golf warm up looks like is that you can’t swing to warm up, you have to warm up to swing.
A proper warm up happens right before you start golfing, so that means you’ll be doing it at the course. If swinging a club isn’t a good warm up, what does one look like? It’s a series of dynamic activities that raises your heart rate to 60% of your maximum. The easy way to figure this number out is to subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum, then multiply that by 60% to get your target heart rate for your warm up. So for a 55 year old, the maximum heart rate would be 165 (220-55) and 60% of that is 99 (165 x 0.6).
Below are 8 stretches to improve your golf game.
Each exercise should be done for about 1 minute on both sides of your body to keep symmetry and be completed at a pace to get to your target heart rate.
Drop your chin down to your chest, then rotate your head in a circle, bringing your ear to your right shoulder, continue rotating lifting your chin up to the sky, then bringing the ear to your left shoulder, and finishing back to the original position you started in. Repeat for 30 seconds and then switch directions.
Turn your head to the left and hold for 2 seconds, then to the right and hold for 2 seconds. Creating the motion of shaking your head “no”. Continue for 60 seconds.
Torso Rotation with Club
Stand in a 5-iron posture with your feet shoulder-width apart, and a slight bend in your knees and waist. Hold the club in front of your shoulders with crossed arms, and keeping your hips steady, rotate your shoulders from side to side. The end of the club should point forward at the biggest point of the stretch .
Side Bends with Club
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the club on your shoulders behind your neck. Keeping your back straight, bend to your left and hold for two seconds, then to the right and hold for two seconds. Make sure you’re not bending forward or backward as you bend from side to side.
Do small shoulder circles for 30 seconds, lifting your shoulders to your ears then back down, first clockwise and then counter clockwise.
Walk forward, kicking one leg and then the other out in front of you while keeping your back and knees straight. As you kick, reach your arm on the same side, aiming to touch your toes to your fingers. Keep your toes flexed toward your body as you kick.
High Knee Walk
Walk around where you are, and with each step, grab your leg just below the knee with both hands and pull it as close to your chest as possible, feeling a stretch in the glute. Hold the stretch for a second and then release and take the next step.
Reverse Lunge Calf Stretch
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and step back with one leg. Keep your back knee straight with your heel on the ground as you bend your front knee and drop into a slight lunge. Hold for a moment and then switch legs, alternating legs for 60 seconds. Hold onto a wall or chair if you need to.
You might wonder where the static stretching is in this warm up. Research has shown that static stretching (holding a stretch for a long period of time) done before activity can actually hurt your performance. However, static stretching is an important part of the cool down after activity.
So before you head out to play your 18 holes, remember to stretch and continuously re-hydrate with some water while you are out on the green!
If you are experiencing pain, do not ignore these warning signs as it can lead to chronic detrimental effects and a more serious injury if unchecked.
Seek out a licensed Physical Therapist at Rock Valley Physical Therapy before the injury develops and identify possible causes contributing to the pain. A Physical Therapist will develop a plan to get you back to their optimal playing performance. At Rock Valley Physical Therapy, we offer an injury screen to assess the injury and explain treatment options. Knowledge of common risk factors, impairments, and effective strategies/interventions can prevent or minimize the impact of these injuries.