Stretching the hamstrings before teeing off, photo courtesy IVGID

Golf Tips: Avoid Injury with a Proper Warmup

One of the many reasons golf is such a beloved game is that people can play, and play well, at any age. But as we all inevitably grow older, our pre-round warmups become more and more important.

Stretching the shoulder, photo courtesy IVGID

Wrist flexibility, photo courtesy IVGID

Loosening the lower back, photo courtesy IVGID

The number one cause of golf-related injuries is that golfers do not stretch and warm up critical muscle groups before they go out to play or practice. And once an injury occurs, it can be time-consuming and frustrating to rehab enough to get back out on the course.

So, this golf season, commit to doing a proper warmup and stretching routine before you pull the clubs out of your bag. You’ll swing better, hit the ball more consistently, and be much less injury-prone.

The following is a list of stretching exercises that I run through on a daily basis.

1. To stretch the shoulder, put your left hand on your right elbow and pull gently across your body toward the shoulder without rotating your torso. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat with the opposite arm.

2. To maintain wrist flexibility and improve your grip, put one hand over the back of the opposite hand and bend the fingers toward the palm, pulling the wrist down and holding the stretch for up to 10 seconds.

3. Stretch your hamstrings by putting your heel up on a chair or the step of a golf cart. Straighten your knee and lean over, sliding your hands down your shin until you feel the back of your thigh begin to stretch. Do both legs, holding the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds each. Don’t bounce.

4. Loosen lower back muscles by putting a club behind your back and between your elbows and rotate slowly and smoothly back and forth about 10 times, holding the stretch for up to 10 seconds.

5. Hip flexors are critical for generating the lower body movement needed for a good swing. Loosen them up by putting your right foot over your left knee then sitting your rear end down while pressing down on the right knee with your left hand. Stabilize yourself by holding onto something with your right hand. Hold for 10 seconds and do not bounce. Repeat with the opposite foot.

6 Once you’re ready to start swinging a club, grab a weighted club if you have one. Slowly swing the club by itself 25 to 30 times, feeling the shoulder turn and the muscles in the forearms flex. After that, I always suggest warming up on the driving range, starting with your highest-lofted clubs and working your way down to your driver.

Remember, you should do these exercises before you play; but they are also beneficial while you are playing your round and after the round is completed. Concentrate on holding the stretches and not bouncing, and don’t forget to breathe while holding each stretch.

Darren Howard is director of golf at the Incline Village Golf Courses.

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