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Stretching and warming-up for golfers

by Ramsay McMaster - golfphysio@ozemail.com.au

Stretching and warming-up for golfers.

Introduction

As seen at tournaments, or practice ranges, on the first tee at golf courses and on a TV telecast there is a heavy emphasis now being placed on stretching for golf. It has been scientifically proven that a muscle tissue itself will work to maximal function if maximally stretched. Stretching is beneficial to everyone but there are unique benefits to the golfer, and it is essential component of a golf specific fitness regime. Extreme muscle tightness in specific muscle groups effects the golfers' body and in turn will effect individual golf technique. Signs and symptoms of muscle tightness in the golfers are as follows:

1. The affected muscles feel tight and in spasm. Localised pain in the upper trapezius (neck and shoulder muscle) can cause neck and shoulder pain further tightness may lead to referred pain (pain occurring in another area, other then site of tightness) eg. Intense upper trapezius muscle spasm lead to pain in the back of the head leading to headaches or even migraines.
2. Muscle tightness can also lead to reduced movement, eg. hip tightness, causing reduction of smooth efficient movement at the hips in the golf swing, which leads to hip slide.
3. This in turn can lead to reduction in rotation in the golf swing

Excessive movements and tightness can have an adverse affect on swing plane eg. Tight pectorals causing the club to come inside swing plane.

Do's and Don'ts of Stretching for Golfers

The Do's

1. Do always carry out slow prolonged stretches with a pain free range, eg. 5-15
seconds.
2. Do stretch before, during your round and after playing golf.
3. Do carry out stretching regimes to break up practice sessions.
4. Do practise these exercises in front of a mirror at home to ensure correct stance and positioning, eg: keep your back straight when stretching your arms.
5. Do contact your local physiotherapist if you do not know how to
properly stretch.
6. Do ensure your stretching regime covers shoulders, elbows, wrists, back, hips, and knees to allow your body to be fully prepared for golf.

The Don't's

1. Don't bounce or make fast jerky movements when stretching as you can tear muscle fibres.
2. Don't over-stretch when you are experiencing sharp intense pain.
3. Don't stretch if you experience dizziness, chest pains or an acute medical condition.
4. Don't forget to stretch at work, home or in the garden, as it should be an integral part of daily living.

Finally, remember that you have 4-5 hours on the golf course. Please take this opportunity to give your muscles a good stretch so you can really grip it without ripping it!

Principles of Hold / Relax Techniques for Golfers

Introduction

Hold/Relax techniques on muscles can be used by Golfers in addition to or as an alternative to stretching. These techniques are based on the principle that after a muscle contracts there is a brief period of relaxation of that muscle. In other words, applying a resistance to a muscle will induce the muscle to "pay out" and lengthen allowing extra range of movement

The Benefits of Hold / Relax Techniques to Golfers

1. They are an alternative to constantly performing the same stretches.
2. They will reduce tightness in specific muscle groups.
3. They will allow Golfers to achieve the correct feel in swing positions.

Application

Place a specific muscle in its stretched position, eg. finger flexors
Resist this action of trying to straighten the wrist with the opposite hand. Commencing with 20% of maximum resistance for 5-10 seconds until muscles begin to fatigue, then stretch the muscles a little further, moving muscles through the gained range. Repeat 2-3 times with several seconds rest between each contraction. Number of repeats depends on golfer's tolerance and the improvements achieved.

This article was written by Ramsay McMaster who offers a FREE Newsletter service for golfers wanting to learn more about golf fitness. To subscribe email golfphysio@ozemail.com.au. For further information about fitness for golf we suggest a visit to the leading golf fitness web site - www.golfmed.net