By Marcia Bullock, BScPT, GunnIMS
The debate is over!! A dynamic warm-up is the best way to prevent injury on the golf course. Leave the static stretches behind.
I just purchased new clubs and tried them out this weekend for the first time. We were a bit late starting, and I did not have time to warm up. I am very good at nagging everyone about the importance of a “dynamic warm-up” but this weekend, I had the opportunity to experience what it feels like to do no warm-up at all. It was not pretty, and I nearly lost to my husband. (Thank goodness we were playing best ball and my partner was amazing).
The results: Hit lots of different shots and clubs when you warm-up. When the results of the study came back, they found that golfers in the second group — who practiced in a “randomized” manner, hitting lots of different shots with lots of different clubs — performed better than those in the first group.I spent a bit of time doing some research into “the best golf warm-ups” and I have listed a few here for you to try out. The most important thing to do when preparing for any sport is to get prepared with an active, dynamic and purposeful warm-up and to avoid static stretches.
That does not necessarily mean it’s the best way to practice on your golf swing technique, but when it comes to warming up, you should probably take note. When you are on the range before your round, do not hit a bunch of shots with three clubs. Try hitting different clubs for each shot, to targets at different distances. You may find you are more ready for the different situations you encounter on the course. Finally, you will have the peace of mind that your warm-up is actually helping.
Why you are stretching wrong. Static stretching is the kind of which you see here, and it’s pretty simple: Static stretch is when you are standing (or sitting) still, moving your body slowly into a stretch, and holding it there. There are some benefits to it, mainly that it increases flexibility and range of motion. But when it comes to warming up for golf, there are some big negatives.
A much-cited 2004 study found that static stretching in fact, makes it harder for athletes to use their bodies to generate torque and force. This was followed up by a golf-specific study by Professor Jeffrey C. Gergley of Stephen F. Austin State University, who measured the effects of static stretching on 15 male golfers and observed noticeable drops in clubhead speed, distance, accuracy and overall contact. The theoretical cause, put simply, was because static stretching had negative impacts on things like reflexes, which are essential in the game of golf.
Static stretching however, remains one of the most common features in golfers’ warm-up routines. THE most common, according to another recent study — which shows evidence that golfers are not actually using their warm-up to get the most out of their games.
The next time you are preparing for a round, remember that the purpose of a warm-up is supposed to, quite literally, help you warm-up. This is why experts recommend “dynamic” stretching. This is the kind of stretching that involves a lot of movement and exercise. Follow a more dynamic warm-up routine, like you see below, then pair that with a range warm-up. You will be getting your heart pumping, your blood flowing, and feeling loose and limber for when you get on the course.
What is the difference between warming up and stretching? The goal of warming up is to elevate your heart rate and get your blood flowing, which increases your body’s core temperature. Stretching is used to loosen your muscles and increase your range of motion. Warming up properly before you stretch or swing a club is pretty easy. You can do something as simple as making a few slow-motion golf swings, taking a brisk walk, or doing a few squats and lunges — anything that gets your heart rate up and your body moving through a complete range of motion. Once you have warmed up, you can run through some stretches to loosen up your muscles and prepare your body to swing a golf club. Getting ready for your round in this order will not only help your performance but also prevent injuries, keeping you on the course longer. If you are at a total loss of where to start with your warm-up, try this simple five-minute routine:
- 5 small arm circles forward and backward
- 5 large arm circles forward and backward
- 5 forward lunges with extension per side
- 5 forward lunges with rotation per side
- 5 squats with arm extension per side
- 5 squat jumps
For a demonstration of these exercises, click the link for the video below. This routine will get your blood flowing and get your body ready to play, so give it a go before your next round.
Click here for some additional light reading on the topic of golf injuries and training ideas.