There are many parts in motion, working in sync with one another to orchestrate the brilliant dance we call a golf swing, all of which demand a sturdy stance and athletic posture. Our last segment focused on improving upper body flexibility, but we all know a proper stance and fluid lower body rotation is just as important. Strong, flexible hips and stable legs will keep you centered and steady throughout any motion, whether you’re swinging out of your shoes with the big stick or finessing a downhill putt to save par. Here are some tips to help you strengthen your lower body and increase your overall range of motion.
Warm-Up – It is very important to warm up your body before any routine. You can do any general stretches to get your body warm, but these are what I normally use.
- Forward Bend/Hamstring Stretch – Start by standing up straight with your feet six inches apart. While maintaining a straight back, bring your arms above your head and start bending from the waist until your hands reach your toes, or as close as you can get. While bending from the waist try and keep your spine as straight as possible. Hold this stretch for three to five seconds and repeat three times.
- Standing Hip Stretch – You’ll want to make sure you have your golf club with you to aid with your balance during this stretch, as you will basically be balancing on one leg at a time. Begin by placing your right ankle on the outside of the left knee, as though you were going to sit Indian-style. Take a deep breath and as you do, begin to bend your left knee as though you were going to sit down in a chair. Bring your chest toward your shin and roll your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for three deep breaths and repeat three times on each side.
- Neck and Trunk Stretch – Start with your feet shoulder width apart, looking straight ahead. While keeping your body still, look up to the sky trying to extend your chin as high as possible. Hold this position for two seconds. While still looking up, extend your arms above your head while holding the club in both hands (the shaft of the golf club will be parallel to ground). Lower your hands so that the shaft is lying across the back of your neck. Maintaining the current position, rotate your shoulders as thought you are swinging to the top of your backswing. Once your backswing is completed, hold this position for two seconds. Then rotate your shoulders to a follow through position, and hold for two seconds. Repeat the whole process two more times. To increase your flexibility throughout the stretch, try restricting your hip movement.
Lower Body Stretching Routine – Follow each stretch in the listed order.
- One Leg Hamstring Stretch – For this stretch you’ll need stretching bands or a rope to assist you. While lying on your back with your legs extended, loop the band around the arch of your right foot. Use the band to gently pull your foot towards your body until you feel a slight to moderate stretch in the hamstring. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. Repeat with your left leg.
- Inner Thigh Stretch – While lying on your back with your legs extended, loop the band around your right ankle and hold the band with your right hand. Now bring your leg to your chest and let it fall to the right until you feel a slight to moderate stretch in your inner thigh. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. Repeat with the left leg.
- Outer Thigh/Hip Stretch – While lying on your back with your legs extended, loop the band around your right ankle and hold the band with your left hand. Now bring your leg to your chest and let it fall to the left until you feel a slight to moderate stretch in your outer thigh and hip. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. Repeat with the left leg.
- Hip/Glute Stretch – While lying on your back, place your feet near your rear so your knees are bent.
- Quadriceps Stretch – Use a chair or a wall to assist you with this stretch. While standing straight up, place your left hand on a chair or wall and grab your right ankle with your right hand. Pull with your right hand until you feel a slight to moderate stretch in your quadriceps. Try to keep your right knee pointing to the ground throughout the stretch. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. Repeat with left leg.
- Calf Stretch – Stand on the edge of any step with both feet making sure that only your toes and the balls of your feet are on the step. Gently relax your calves so your heels are pointing to the ground and stop when you feel a slight to moderate stretch in your calves. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.
Practice Drills – Follow each stretch in the listed order.
- Posture Drill – Good posture is one key to a repeatable golf swing. Creating and maintaining good posture in a golf swing is why Tour Pros are extremely consistent. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your eyes forward. Place a golf club across your hips so the shaft is parallel to the ground. Push the shaft into your hips, bending only from the waist, so that your rear sticks out past your heels. Keep bending over until your shoulders are in a vertical line with your toes. Now relax your knees and allow your arms to hang down naturally. Your weight distribution in your feet should be 50/50 from front to back and side to side.
- Proper Release Drill – Squaring the club face during your golf swing is a major factor in distance and control. Begin in the address position without a golf club and mimic your backswing. Stop and hold your hands at the top of your swing. From there, with your right hand only (for right-handed golfers), make the motion of skipping a rock across a pond. This motion creates the proper arm angle and release point for your downswing.
- Hip Rotation Drill – Rotation of the hips in your golf swing is crucial to maximizing power and you don’t want to lose your hip level throughout the swing. Begin by standing with your back to a wall and place your heels about 6 inches away from the wall. Starting in your address position, without a golf club, you should feel your rear against the wall. While beginning to mimic your backswing you should now feel just the right side of your rear (for right-handed golfers) against the wall. Now mimic your downswing, ensuring that your rear end remains against the wall, and you should now feel the left side of your rear against the wall as you follow through to your finish.
I hope these stretches will give you something to do indoors until the weather breaks for the upcoming golf season!