Stretching, performed consistently and correctly, will increase your power and range of motion, and, most importantly, aid in reducing painful injuries that can cut your golf season short. I learned the value of this firsthand back in my college golf days when my back would occasionally flair up. I was introduced to hot yoga shortly after and have been practicing yoga and incorporated pre-round golf stretching ever since that time. It had become such an important part of my life that I became a Certified Yoga Teacher and have been teaching hot yoga and Yoga and Golf clinics for several years now.
We are fortunate these days to have many options for stretching and strengthening on non-golf days. I am going to share some ideas to try during the days you do play golf. The first thing is you should make a concerted effort to arrive at the golf course early enough to allow you to perform your routine. I see so many golfers pull into the parking lot only minutes before their tee time, rush into the shop to pay their fees and head to the first tee. Then they pull their driver out and make a couple practice swings and then grip it and rip it. Next, I see them reach into their pocket for another ball and rip it again. That scenario is the best recipe for an injury and I see it every day. Give yourself 10 minutes and avoid this situation.
- Find some stairs, a hill or just an open area. Walk up and down the stairs a few times to get your heart rate up.
- Then fire up the legs some more by doing some simple squats. Hold your arms out in front of you parallel with the ground and squat down until your thighs are almost parallel with the ground and then come back up. Do 5 to 15 of these.
- Immediately lengthen your hamstrings by simply doing a forward fold which means bending from the waist and attempting to touch your toes. Try to keep your legs straight by locking your knees as you do this. Hold that pose for almost a minute.
- As you stand back up start to do some arm circles. Hold your arms out to your side and make 5-10 small forward circles and then 5-10 big circles. Then repeat that routine with circles going the other direction.
- Now do some side bends in what is called a half moon pose. Bring your feet close together then lift your arms above your head and clasp your hands together. Then slowly bend as far to the right as you can for 20-30 seconds. Then repeat on the left side.
- Lastly, take out two clubs from your bag holding them together and make 10 to 15 slow warm-up swings.
Now you are ready for that first tee shot. Try this out during your next round of golf and let me know how it works for you.
Matt Stottern is the PGA Director of Instruction at the Peninsula State Park Golf Course. He has more than 20 years teaching golf and teaches golfers of all ages and abilities. He spends the winter months teaching golf schools and private lessons in Arizona.