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5 Essential Stretches to Prep You for the Links

The weather’s heating up, so it is time to dust off those clubs, take your custom golf cart out of storage, and hit the golf course. However, if you have not been practicing in the off-season, you may find your swing is not what it used to be.

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Golf puts a surprising amount of stress and pressure on joints and muscles. Rotational spinal movements and explosive muscle contractions combined with an out-of-condition body make a recipe for disaster. The last thing you need is for an injury to keep you off the links for the rest of the season.

5 Essential Stretches to Prep You for the Links: WikiHealthBlog
5 Essential Stretches to Prep You for the Links: WikiHealthBlog
In addition to a strength and cardio training program, regular stretching will give you the necessary flexibility to use your full range of motion. This will help improve your swing, maintain the ideal swing posture, and protect your muscles and joints from injury.

To prepare yourself for a game, the best kind of stretching is dynamic stretching. Both static and dynamic stretching improve flexibility; however, because dynamic stretches keep the body moving, it is more effective at promoting blood flow to your muscles and stretches your muscles in a sports-specific way. This stretching makes it the perfect addition to your warm-up routine, whereas static stretches are ideal for your cool-down to release lactic acid buildup in your muscles.

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So, if you want to improve your game and protect yourself from injury, here is a dynamic routine of five essential stretches to prep you for the links.

Arm Swing

5 Essential Stretches to Prep You for the Links:WikiHealthBlog

Systematic progression is the key to a great stretching routine, so start at the top with this shoulder stretching exercise and work your way down. The arm swing is a deceptively simple exercise that stretches the all-important trapezius muscles in the shoulders, as well as the deltoids, chest, and upper arm muscles.
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for stability. Stabilize your core by contracting your abdominals. Extend your arms out from the side of your body, so they are at shoulder height and parallel to the floor.
  2. To begin, gently swing both arms across the front of your chest, keeping the arms straight, and crossing the left over the right arm. Then, return to your original position.
  3. Without pausing, repeat the action, but cross your right arm over your left. Continue to alternate arms with every swing.
  4. Gradually build up speed and momentum. Be sure to swing the arms smoothly, without jerking.
  5. Continue for 20-30 seconds.

Trunk Rotations

The trunk rotation is the perfect golfer’s warm-up exercise, as it mimics the movements you perform during a swing. Stretching your torso helps to develop flexibility in the upper and lower back, and improve your rotational range of movement. Though stretching is aimed at preventing injury, improper technique can damage your joints. When performing the trunk twist, ensure you twist only from the torso and not from the knees, to avoid strains, and make sure you stabilize your core throughout the exercise to prevent damage to your spine.
  1. Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart, place your club across your shoulders and hold the club at each end.
  2. Keep your knees slightly bent and lean forward slightly from your hips. This should put you in an ideal swing stance.
  3. Turn your torso so the end of the club is aimed at the floor.
  4. Then, in one fluid motion, twist your torso to the other side so the opposite end of the club is pointing at the floor. This is one full rotation.
  5. You should complete 15-20 full rotations.

Rolling Wrist Flexor

Wrist injuries are common, among golfers, due to overuse or poor technique. The wrists encounter much pressure as the force of the swing is delivered to the club through the wrists. Stretching the wrist joints combined with golf drills will help you improve your swing and your overall game.
  1. Kneel on the ground with your hips over your knees and your hands under your shoulders, with your fingers facing forward.
  2. Slowly rotate your wrists so your fingers face your knees.
  3. Sit back on your heels as far as you can, without lifting your palms off the floor. Then return to your original position.
  4. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times. Try to get a deeper range of motion with each repetition.

Forward and Side Leg Swings

Though you may associate leg stretches with running sports, this stretch is essential for maintaining flexibility in the hips and hamstrings. Much of the fast rotational movement in a swing comes from the hips. Dynamically stretching the hips will help you to achieve more power from your swing.
  1. Hold on to a wall or bar to stabilize yourself. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Start to slowly swing the leg closest to the wall backward and forward, keeping your upper body as still as possible.
  3. Gradually increase the range of motion throughout the stretch. Complete 15-20 repetitions.
  4. Repeat on the alternate side.
  5. Turn to face the wall. Place hands on the wall for stability.
  6. Swing one leg to the side away from the body, then back to the front of the body, slowly increasing the range of motion. Complete 15-20 repetitions.
  7. Repeat on alternate side.

Toe Touch

Toe touches are great for stretching out your hamstrings, which have a significant impact on your posture and alignment during your swing. It is also an excellent stretch for the smaller muscles on either side of your spine.
  1. Stand with your feet spread as far apart as comfortable. Do not overextend yourself; this will put too much pressure on your knees and ankles.
  2. Lean forward from your hips and use the opposite hand to touch the opposite foot. Stretch only as far as is comfortable.
  3. Return to your original position and repeat with the other leg.
  4. Complete 15-20 sets using smooth, fluid movements to transition from one leg to the other.

Final Thoughts

Before beginning any fitness routine, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare professional. Dynamic stretches should always make up part of your golf preparation if you want to increase circulation to your muscles and create flexible joints. It is important to note that dynamic stretching focuses on fluid movements, not bouncing or jerking.

Performing any of these stretches without the correct technique may make them ineffective and cause injuries. Always remember to do a short 5-10-minute cardio-based warm-up before your dynamic stretching routine. Also, perform some static stretching post game to reduce stiffness and pain.