10 Stretches To Benefit Your Golf Swing
Golf requires our bodies to move in strange contorted ways that put stress on our muscles and joints. Strengthening programs paired with stretching routines done on a regular basis will allow you to enjoy this game (and life) for more years than if you did nothing in regards to fitness. The exercises covered today will span each major muscle group required in the golf swing. There are also stretches included so that your body’s flexibility will not become restricted during strength training.
Warm-Up – A very important aspect of any workout or routine. You must get your body ready and warm for the rest of the routine to be effective.
- 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.
Strength & Stretch Routine – Follow each stretch in the listed order.
- Lunges: While standing with your feet shoulder width apart, take one large step forward with your right leg. Now, bend your right knee to a 90 degree angle and drop your left knee to the ground. Maintain a straight back throughout the exercise. Repeat for 10 reps with each leg.
- Squat with Calf Raise: For this exercise, you should be using light to moderate weight Dumbells or freeweights. While holding a freeweight in each hand, stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Now, squat down with your legs until your knees create a 90 degree angle while trying to keep your body weight towards your heels. Now press up with your legs and in a continuous motion press up to your toes for the calf raise. Maintain a straight back throughout the exercise. Repeat for 12-15 reps.
- Back Extensions: While lying on your stomach, extend your arms in front of you. Now lift your arms AND heels to the sky and hold. Hold with deep breathes for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times
- Chair Turn – Sit in a straight-backed chair with your back straight and your feet shoulder width apart. Now, turn your upper body to the right so that you can grab the back of the chair with both hands. Ensure that your feet do not leave the floor or that you are coming out of the seat. Hold this position for 30 seconds with deep breaths. Repeat for left side.
- Sphinx Pushup: Lay face down in a modified pushup position with your forearms resting on the ground and your elbows forming a 90 degree angle. Your body should be straight, supported by your forearms and toes. Now perform a pushup using your forearms to press up, never allowing your forearms to come off the ground. You should feel tension in your core and chest. Repeat for 12-15 reps.
- Lunges with Rotation: Follow the Lunge sequence in #1 and when you are in the flexed position, rotate your upper body to the right. You should be rotating the same direction of which leg you are working (i.e. if you lunge forward with your right leg, then rotate the upper body to the right). Repeat for 10 reps on each leg/side.
- Bicycle Abs: While in a seated position on the ground and your knees bent towards your chest, mimic peddling a bicycle. Keep your back straight and your core flexed throughout the exercise. Do this for 30 seconds. Now reverse the motion as you were peddling backwards for an additional 30 seconds.
- Abdominal Stretch: Lay on your stomach with your hands underneath your shoulders and elbows next to your ribcage. Now, press your chest away from the floor while keeping your hands and elbows on the floor. To increase the stretch, extend your arms until your elbows lock. Hold for 30 seconds with deep breaths.
- Lower Back Stretch: Position yourself on your hands and knees with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Now, press your stomach towards the floor and lookup. Now, pull your stomach up towards the sky and put your chin in your chest. Hold each position for 5-10 deep breaths.
- Wrist/Elbow Rotation: While holding a golf club at the center of the shaft with your right hand, hold your arm straight in front of you. Now, slowly rotate clockwise and stop when you feel tension in your elbow. Now, slowly rotate counter-clockwise. Do not hold these positions; try to keep the club moving in a slow, deliberate pace. Repeat with left hand.
Practice Drills – Follow each drill in the listed order.
- Ladder Putting Drill: Place 6 golf balls on the same line, starting with the first ball 3 feet from the cup and place one the remaining five 8-10 ft behind the first. Start from the 3 footer and make your way to the farthest ball. Keep repeating drill until you make 4 out 6 putts. This will train you on the most important aspect of putting; distance control.
- Chipping Drill: For this drill you will need an alignment stick or a long iron. While in your normal chipping stance, hold the alignment rod in your hands with your normal grip so that the alignment rod reaches under your lead arm pit. Now practice chipping while trying to keep the alignment rod in the same position under arm pit. If you release your hands, the alignment rod will hit into your rib cage. This drill will train you to keep your hands still and keep your torso moving during your chipping stroke.
- Pitching Drill: Stand in your address position with your wedge. Now, take your right hand off the club and place it behind your back (for right-handed golfers). Now, make some practice swings with your left hand only, while trying to keep your body still. Try to imagine that as you swing through, you are pointing the knuckles of your left hand to the ground. Now, practice the same motion with an actual ball. It may take you a few tries before you get the ball airborne, but once you can hit pitch shots consistently with your left hand only, put your right hand back on the club and mimic the feeling of the drill. This drill will train you on how to keep your hands leading the club on your pitch shots. Once you learn that, you can hit an array of short game shots!
- Iron Drill: Start with your 7 iron. Place tees in the ground at both ends of the clubhead; one near the toe and one near the heel (leave about ½” from tee to clubhead). Then, place a 3rd tee in the ground where the golf ball would be. Now, make practice swings with your goal being to miss the two outside tees and only hit the middle tee. Once you can consistently hit the middle tee, replace the tee with a golf ball. This drill will train you on consistent contact with your irons.
- Woods Drill: Start with your Driver and tee up a golf ball. Now, place a tee 3 feet behind the ball and about 6 inches inside the target line (closer to you). Now, place another tee 3 feet in front of the ball and about 6 inches outside the target line (away from you). The goal is to attempt to hit the back tee on your backswing and the hit the front tee on the downswing after impact. The placement of the tees is training you in 2 ways; it demonstrates what a wide swing arc in your swing feels like and it teaches the proper inside-out path needed to be successful with your woods.