How Improved Flexibility can Improve Your Golf Game
Are you a golfer that is stiff every morning when you first get out of bed? Do you avoid the 7 A.M. tee time because you feel stiff? By introducing a few simple stretches into your exercise routine, you can increase your power, improve your consistency, and decrease your risk of injury. Flexibility is just one component in making your golf swing more efficient. Other components include balance, strength and coordination. In this article we will discuss how flexibility will not only make you a better golfer, but also a more consistent one.
Why is Flexibility important?
Flexibility promotes a more consistent, efficient and powerful swing. Today’s professional golfers are amazing athletes that have extraordinary flexibility, especially in their spine. The better flexibility a golfer has, the more they can maintain good posture throughout their swing and maintain a good axis of rotation around their spine. By maintaining this good axis of rotation, a golfer will keep the club on the proper path for square contact. If a golfer has poor posture, their golf swing will become inefficient, and if they have a limited axis of rotation, they will lose power and distance on their shots. Also, if you have lack of flexibility or a restriction within your golf swing, your body will have to compensate elsewhere and this can lead to injury. The three most important areas to concentrate on flexibility for a golfer are: head/neck, the mid back, and the hips. We will focus on these three areas so you that you can gain or maintain flexibility for your golf game.
How to improve your flexibility:
Neck Flexibility – having good neck flexibility will allow better shoulder turn while allowing you to keep your eyes focused on the ball. The two most important movements of the neck are rotation and side-bending.
- ROTATIONAL STRETCH WITH OVER PRESSURE - Turn your head to one side as far as you can and then use your hand on the same side to assist in turning the head further for a gentle stretch.Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times each side.
- UPPER TRAP STRETCH – Move your ear towards your shoulder and add overpressure to your head with the same sided hand. You will feel a stretch in your opposite upper trapezius muscle. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times each side.
Mid-back and Low-back Flexibility – spine flexibility is very important to generate power in the golf swing. The more rotation of the spine, the longer the arch of the swing which produces more club head speed and more distance on the shot.
- SPINE ROTATION STRETCH - Lie on the ground with your arms spread perpendicular to your body. Lift both legs off the floor, knees at a 90-degree angle. Inhale and bring your legs to the left, maintaining contact of your shoulders with the floor. Exhale, initiating the movement from your oblique abdominal muscles, and bring your legs back to the starting position. Switch sides and repeat 5 times in each direction holding each stretch for 15-20 seconds.
- OPEN BOOKS RIB CAGE – Lie down sideways and bend both knees. Take the downside hand and place it on top of the top knee – use the hand to keep the knees from rotating. Now take the top hand and reach under the downside rib cage and grab the ribs. Slowly rotate the torso toward the sky using the top hand to help and the bottom hand to resist the lower body rotation. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 5 times in each direction.
Hip Flexibility – the hip joint is a ball and socket joint which allows for a large range of movement through the joint. This large range of movement is important in the golf swing to increase the axis of rotation that the body rotates around to generate a consistent golf swing.
RUSSIAN TWIST ON SWISS BALL - Lie with shoulder blades and head on the ball and your feet flat on the floor. Raise arms straight in the air, clasping hands together. Slowly rotate your shoulders to the right until your arms are roughly parallel to the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds and then rotate to the left. Repeat 10 times to each side.
LEG CROSS OVER STRETCH - Lie on ground and cross right leg over left, with left hand on right knee. Rotate body to the left, bringing right arm to shoulder height.
Hold stretch for 15-20 seconds and repeat 5 times to each side.
Greater flexibility will improve your chances of becoming a more consistent golfer while also having the ability to improve power and distance with each swing. Flexibility is not the only component of the body that needs to be addressed to have the most efficient and consistent golf swing. Working on strength training, balance, and coordination will also improve your overall golf swing, but without flexibility, you will not be able to take full advantage of the other components during your swing. If you have any pain or discomfort when performing these stretches, please contact a TPI physical therapist in your area for a consultation.