Golf is physically demanding. No doubt about it! During the full swing, clubs are propelled from standstill to over 100 mph in just over a second. This power is not easy to achieve and can be a great strain on the body. Recent developments in golf technology have led to lighter golf clubs and shafts and bigger ‘more forgiving’ heads which have allowed golfers to swing faster to produce higher club head speed. Whilst this can lead to longer shot distances it also place more stress and strain on the body. It is therefore increasingly important that golfers are physically prepared before play. You will have heard about the benefits of a warm up before and perhaps wanted to try making changes, but instead still find yourself screeching into the golf course car park with 5 minutes to spare before your tee time! I want to give you even more reason to make the change and start lowering your scores and reducing that niggling lower back pain.
Not performing an adequate warm up puts you at much higher injury risk and lowers performance levels in a number of ways. In a one year long study, over a third of all golfers said that they had been injured during that year and it meant missing playing golf sometimes for weeks at a time. This can be improved with a more functional golf swing and physical conditioning but also with the introduction of a quick warm up routine before you play. The number one problem I have seen is golfers just not knowing what to do to get ready. Instead they end up with pain in the lower back, wrist and elbow, knee and shoulder.
5 – 15 minutes is all that we need to get our body ready for sending the ball down every fairway and onto every green in regulation. Start with a few minutes of aerobic activity – walking, skipping, jumping or running or anything else you fancy but longer than just the run from the car park to the pro shop to the 1st tee! Intensity should be high enough to warm the body and muscles but not be too high as to make you tired and impair performance. This will raise muscle temperature to reduce injury risk in subsequent stretching.
Next, dynamic stretching – lunges, hamstring kicks, internal/external hip kicks, shoulder circles, stork turns, golf rotations, step and rotate (sequencing). You need repetitions of moving stretches, but should not be forcing the muscle past a comfortable range of motion. There is no need for static stretching (reaching your toes and holding for 30!) as dynamic stretching helps elevate core body temperature to ensure it is ready for play and can be tailored to the movements of the swing and leads to increased speeds, power output and range of movement; a must for every golfer.
So, injury risk is down and the chance of getting off to a better start is up, but how else will this help my game?
When the warm up relates to the movements of our swing, not only are the right muscles prepared, but dynamic stretching leads to higher club head speeds when compared to static stretching or no stretching. Standing on the 1st tee we can get off that dream start that we want, rather than taking 5 or 6 holes to ‘get going’ by which time our score is long gone!
It increases power production and leads to benefits in mobility and range of movement. You spend time practicing, taking lessons or buying a new driver to help with your game, but the one thing that really needs changing is you. If you do not get your body ready for play, you will never realise your full potential.
Warming up the muscles and including drills/exercises incorporating the desired kinematic sequence leads to increased numbers of centred strikes. Swing efficiency through an improved kinematic sequence is vital for maximising power and can be improved through many of the dynamic, multi-joint warm up components which challenge the body and mimic the needs of the golf swing.
What are you waiting for? The absolute best thing for your game would be to hire a fitness specialist such as a TPI certified instructor to screen your body, specifically for the golfing movement. From there they could offer corrective exercises for you that would influence your swing, or just find your tight areas that will if focused on will help the most in your warm up. But even Without that though, plan your pre-golf activity to include your warm up and see the benefits in improved golf, lower scores and less weeks sitting at home injured, dreaming of making birdies!
I am a UKPGA member and graduate of the AGMS degree at the University of Birmingham. I have coached in more than 30 countries and traveled and worked with many of the best in the business to constantly improve my coaching. My No. 1 desire is to help golfers reach their dreams, and to enjoy the process!
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