By Ken Macdonald, MS, CGFI-3, CES, PES
Whether you swing a golf club or a racquet, stretching is key to improve your flexibility and game. So, what kind of stretching routines should you do? The answer depends on whether you are stretching before or after play.
A typical assumption made by many players is that total body stretching before golf or tennis is beneficial in preventing injury and creating accurate and powerful shots. This may not be entirely true. In a recent study by National Strength and Conditioning Association, researchers found that applying whole body, golf-specific static stretching (holding a stretch for a given amount of time) for 20 minutes before testing for driver speed and accuracy was detrimental to performance. Fifteen golfers were measured and were found to have decreases in clubhead speed (-4.19 percent), distance (-5.62 percent), accuracy (-31.04 percent) and consistent ball contact (-16.34 percent). The concern is that this is the type of warm-up most amateur golfers do before their round. Now this begs the question, should we even warm up our bodies before play?
Research has shown that yes, we do need to warm up before we play, and it needs to be dynamic in nature. It is theorized that static stretching increases laxity of the tendons reducing the force producing capabilities of the muscles. Additionally, the reflexes of the muscles may slow down and neuromuscular coordination needed for swing efficiency may become altered.
Reports have shown that through a proper warm-up, performance can be increased by up to 20 percent. Typical dynamic warm-up exercises are lunge movements, torso rotations, shoulder circles, squats, bridges and pulling and pushing exercises. The weight, if any, should be very light and generally only one set is performed.
Do dynamic stretching before play then static stretching after rounds or matches. When you do, you can improve your flexibility and results!
Ken Macdonald owns and operates Lifetime Performance, a golf- and tennis-specific training studio in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He is a level 3 certified golf fitness professional through the Titleist Performance Institute, holds a master’s degree in human movement and is a certified corrective exercise specialist and performance enhancement specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. With five years of competitive professional golf experience, Macdonald applies his knowledge of the golf swing to the training programs he creates for his clients. Learn more at lifetimeperformancepbg.com.