But a 10-minute stretch can increase distance and decrease injuries
By Scott Hays
Each week, millions of guys step up to the first tee, take a couple of practice swings, maybe twirl their arms around a few times, then wind up and swing; and swing and swing and swing. When they’re done with that round (and unsatisfied with the results, if not downright humiliated), they go to the practice range and whack a large bucket-full, just to prove to themselves that, yes, damn it all, they can hit a little white sphere 250 yards in the general direction of the flag.
And then, a day or two later, they wonder why their shoulders, lower backs, and hamstrings are as painful as their handicaps.
Why won’t a golfer who spends a lifetime trying to straighten out a slice take 10 minutes to stretch before he cranks it up? Why doesn’t a guy who spent thousands of dollars on gear and green fees realize he’ll play better if he makes himself more flexible, promoting a bigger body turn and more powerful and accurate shots? How come a guy who has invested uncountable hours in his game doesn’t realize that one injury can keep him from ever enjoying it again?
Golf injuries are as pervasive as shanks into the woods. In fact, roughly 80 percent of golfers each year get injured or have pre-existing injuries that flare up when they play. And many players don’t realize that a golf swing is extremely demanding on the neck, back and shoulder muscles, says Costa Mesa personal trainer John Carrido, who in less than three years developed a single-digit handicap.
“Golfers need to stay flexible in order to achieve performance of movement,” says Carrido. “If you can get a complete turn of your shoulders when you coil up for your swing, you can really sweep it in, creating a lot more power. Anything less is unacceptable if your want to truly excel at the game.”
And all it really takes is 10 minutes of stretching before you start swinging. Try these stretches, in this order, before your next round.
Without moving your shoulders, turn your head slowly to the left so your chin is above your left shoulder. Place the fingertips of your right hand on your lower-right jaw and gently apply pressure. Hold for 15 seconds, repeat on the other side.
Grab any club with your right hand and place it behind your head. Grab the other end with your left hand at waist level, behind your back; the palm of your left hand should face away from your body. Gently pull the club downward, stretching your right shoulder and triceps. Hold for 15 seconds, repeat with your hands reversed.
Grab a club with both hands behind your lower back, elbows extended, knees slightly bent. With your chest up, raise your arms gently behind your back. Hold for 15 seconds, relax and repeat.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab a golf cart with both hands and bend forward until your chest is parallel to the ground, then squat down and lean slightly backward, stretching your upper-back muscles. Hold for 15 seconds, pause and repeat.
Grab any club with both hands and raise your arms over your head. Bend to the right at your waist as far as you can without moving your torso forward. Hold for 15 seconds, then return to the starting position and bend to the left for 15 seconds.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Holding onto a club for support, grab your right foot behind you with your right hand. Stand as tall and straight as you can, with your knees as close together as possible, and gently pull your heel up to your buttocks. Hold for 15 seconds, repeat with your other leg.
With your feet spread wide, place both hands on your right thigh and bend your right leg while stretching the inner thigh of your left leg. Keep your back and neck straight. Hold for 15 seconds, stretch the other leg.