February Golf Tip: Pre-Round Stretching To Increase Flexibility and Ward Off Injury

If you happen to be reading this from a spot in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic or Midwestern part of the United States or Canada, chances are there’s a great deal more snow on the ground near you than you would prefer. That means that the next round of golf you play is going to be one where a considerable amount of rust needs to be shaken off. Whether you find yourself golfing in Myrtle Beach, another vacation locale or your home course when the spring thaw finally comes around, you’ll want to look into doing a bit of bodily preparation before trying to hit long, booming drives during your first round of the spring.

Renowned golf instructor Mel Sole, who runs the Mel Sole Golf School based at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club in Pawleys Island, has three key stretching recommendations aimed at increasing flexibility and, therefore, golf swing power.

All three of these stretches are recommended daily. “Do those three exercises on a regular basis,” Sole says, and “…I guarantee you’ll start to feel your muscles loosen up.”

At the beginning of the golf season, stretching takes on extra importance, given that overexerting oneself with tired muscles can lead to season-shortening (or season-ending-before-it’s-even-gotten-started) injury. According to Sole, taking a couple minutes to do each of these three stretches every day—not just for appearances at the beginning of the season—can lead to increased flexibility, which in turn can produce increased distance.

Stretch 1: Club at Shoulder Height
“If you are not flexible enough…you’re not going to get the torque that you need, ” says Sole. Indeed, torque—the twisting of the spine in the golf swing—is responsible for golf swing power to a great extent.

For this stretch, begin by assuming your normal golf swing posture, reaching your arms up behind you, and stretching a club or broom handle across the back of your shoulders or upper back. Take care not to lay the club across the back of your neck, though. Turn slowly around your spine as if you’re taking the club back. Once you have turned away from the imaginary golf ball as much as you can comfortably, hold that position for ten to 15 seconds. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, try and increase your turn just a little bit, very slowly. Turn slowly to a follow-through type position and repeat the sequence: hold for ten to 15 seconds, take a deep breath, and try to turn a slight bit farther.

Stretch 2: Club Above Head
“I’m letting gravity just pull me down slowly…”

For this stretch, Sole recommends that you hold either end of a club above your shoulders and head, arms stretched up in a sort of Y-formation. Tilt laterally in either direction, slowly, and hold it on each side for 10-15 seconds. This will give the spine some lateral stretching room.

Stretch 3: Club at Middle Back
Once again, take your golf posture. This is similar to the first stretch but this time, hook the club behind you with your arms across the middle of your back. And again, you will turn back to mimic your backswing turn until the club is pointing at the ball. And when you make your follow-through turn, you want to point the club at the ball once again.

These three exercises should be part of any daily golf-related fitness routine you follow. Give them a try and you might well surprise your playing partners by hitting some tee shots that dwarf their own on your next trip!

(posted 2/24/14)

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