Golf is one of those sports that are easy to learn, but extremely difficult to master. If you’ve played, then you know it has this strangely addictive quality where you’re constantly driven to improve your game and numbers. These two factors and a broad appeal across age groups allow golf to be played by the young and the old alike. Dedicated golfers spend hours practicing their drives and short game, but few realize the value of stretching for golf.
Being loose, limber, and flexible carries a wide range of benefits, not just for your golf game, but also for your overall health and wellbeing. With that in mind, StretchZone is excited to explore the value of stretching and its relationship with the sport of golf.
Let’s Start with Stretching
The first step in explaining the relationship between stretching and golf is understanding your body and why stretching is beneficial.
The Effects of Stretching
Understanding Your Body
The muscles and tendons that connect your bones, joints, and give your body strength, are fibrous tissues made out of proteins like actin, myosin, and collagen. These proteins form the fibers that compose your muscular structure and are responsible for repairing damage and stabilizing skeletal structures.
What Happens When I Don’t Stretch?
Your muscle fibers tend to tense up when they do not reach their full range of motion. That’s because the proteins from which they are composed are not fluid. They tend to get packed up, harden, and stiffen if you only move them in very specific and restricted motions, or if you don’t move them as much as you should. This is what causes the sensation of tightness in different parts of your body.
Tight and stiff muscles are problematic for more reasons than just the discomfort. When your muscles are not capable of sustaining a healthy range of motion, you open yourself up for strains, tears, and other injuries that can compromise your mobility and keep you from enjoying your favorite activities like golf.
What Happens to My Body When I Stretch?
When your muscles don’t stretch, the fibers overlap, making it difficult for the proteins responsible for repairing tissue to slot into place. The moment you stretch a muscle, you are extending the fibers to their full length. This realigns those fibers that have been stacked out of their more natural position and in the direction aligned with the source of tension. That repositioning strengthens your muscles and rehabilitates damaged or atrophied tissue back to health.
The Value of Assisted Stretching
When you visit a professional stretch therapist, they will take the time to discuss your current physical situation and limitations. Together, you’ll be able to create an individualized practice that targets the specific areas you need the most help with. This could be solely composed of stretching for golf, or other exercises to improve your overall mobility.
Lower Barrier to Entry
There’s more to stretching for golf than simply bending at your hips and trying to touch your toes. If you are new to stretching, you might not fully understand what the most effective movements are, how far to push yourself, or how to avoid injury. Meeting with a professional stretch practitioner means you’ll gain valuable insight into how your body is supposed to move, achieve the most beneficial stretches, and avoid injury.
Get More Out of Each Stretch
Did you know that your body can be a little overzealous in protecting you? This is especially true when it comes to stretching. See, your muscles have a natural reflex called tonus. The purpose of this reflex is to prevent certain parts of your body from being pulled too far and causing injury due to overstretching.
When you stretch by yourself, your body is on alert, waiting for the moment in which you push it just far enough to react. Although helpful in preventing damage, the tonus also keeps you from reaching the deeper stretches that have the most benefit to your muscles and joints.
However, when you come to see a professional stretch therapist, all the work is out of your hand. You simply come in, lay back, and one of our expertly trained practitioners will do the movements for you. This lets your body relax and your muscles to subvert your natural tonus reflex, unlocking your full range of motion and letting you get the stretch you need.
What are the Benefits of Assisted Stretching for Golf?
- Improve your mobility
- Strengthen your muscles
- Get the deeper stretches your body needs most
How is Stretching Related to Golf?
Breaking Down a Golf Swing
Golf might be a low-impact activity, but there’s still a lot of exercise and motion associated with swinging, the constant walking, and bending over to line up a put. What’s more, you use more muscles when you play golf than you have probably considered. Let’s take a closer look at the mechanics of a golf swing to identify the parts of your body you are using every step of the way.
A golf swing can be broken down into five steps:
- Follow Through
The start of your golf swing needs to be stable and consistent. If you don’t start the right way, your entire swing could be compromised. The takeaway requires you to use your shoulders to rotate the club back, steady hands/wrist to keep your club stable, and your core to complete the rotation.
This is the point at which your club transitions to the highest point of the swing. Here you will also be using your shoulders, wrists, and core. But now you are also using a slight bend to your knees and placing weight on your legs to gain balance. Without realizing it, you are engaging your quads and hamstrings.
The moment of transition is when your backswing becomes a downswing and where you begin to implement the force that will take you through the rest of the motion. At this point, your lower back is bearing a lot of weight and your torso is sustaining a rotated position. Your shoulders and wrist are also engaged holding up the club.
This is perhaps the most important phase of your golf swing and the moment at which your club meets the ball. During the downswing, your body unrolls like a spring at your torso, your shoulders create a downward force as they help bring your club down. Your legs are also getting some work by bearing the shift in weight during the rotation. This entire process also requires you to spin your hips. The downswing engages several important parts of your body and puts pressure on your joints. One can argue that stretching for golf will translate the most improvement to this phase of your golf swing.
Experienced golfers understand that the swing is not done after the club hits the ball. The follow-through is crucial in securing the trajectory of the ball. This motion is all about balance. Balance that comes from your legs, hips, abdomen, and shoulders. A proper follow-through also causes you to displace weight onto your lower back, which means the strength and flexibility in this area and in your hamstrings can help you improve and avoid injury.
What Stretching for Golf Can Do for Your Game?
Swinging the golf club is not a natural motion. Our bodies are not necessarily equipped with the tools to execute a flawless swing, that’s why it takes years to master the motion. However, when you stretch, you improve your length, flexibility, and muscle strength needed to get the most out of each attempt. With the right stretches, done regularly, you can add several yards to your driving distance and make a significant improvement to your accuracy.
What Stretching for Golf Can Do for Your Body
Whether you are standing up and walking around or simply sitting in your golf cart, your back is constantly combating gravity. This strain is especially prevalent during the forward bends when putting or when your torso rotates on a drive. If your back is tight then your movement is limited, which affects how well you can take a tee shot or how long you can sustain a bend for a put.
Your core gets a surprising amount of work during golf. Much of your tee shot has to do with the fluidity of motion during the stroke. This requires a twisting movement emanating from your torso. Adding flexibility to this part of your body improves your swing and flow.
We don’t have to tell you how important your wrists are in golf. They don’t just hold the clubs, micromovements of the wrist can make or break your game entirely. Your wrists also take a lot of punishment and you might be aware of the condition called ‘golfers wrist,’ which is associated with the wear and tear of the game. Stretching can alleviate pain and enhance the flexibility in your wrists.
You might not think of it, but your hamstrings and back share a close relationship. The hamstrings are some of the largest muscles in your body and they are responsible for sharing some of the burdens with your back. They help stabilize your hips and distribute weight to your legs. Having tight and inflexible hamstrings limit your mobility, which in turn, detracts from your game. Hamstring stretches for golf are an excellent way to prevent injury and keep you on the course for longer.
Throughout your game, your shoulders see a lot of work. They are constantly rotating or sustaining the position of the club. Over the course of several games, your shoulders can start to feel the tension of these repetitive motions. Stretching is an excellent way to keep your shoulders loose and nimble so you can maintain your swings consistently.
Best Assisted Stretches for Golfing
Stretching for golf aims to accomplish some basic physical goals that will not only improve your game, but also the way you move and feel. Some of the most effective stretches include:
Back twists encompass several different stretches that involve rotating your torso in a different direction while releasing tension on your back. From a resting position, our professional stretch practitioners will ask you to relax while they manipulate your arms or fold your legs before implementing a twist. During this process, it’s important to not tense up and continue a regular flow of breath. This will help release tension in your back and balance how you hold your weight while standing.
Core Twist Stretches
Core stretches usually involved turning your body at your torso and gaining length across your core and sides. These stretches are excellent for developing the flexibility and strength necessary to bring balance and stability to your back. This is especially important because your core is responsible for twisting when you swing.
Your hips are responsible for not only carrying the shifting weight of your body during a golf swing, but they are also the starting point of many of the twisting motions in golf. Hip stretches are focused on developing flexibility and balance on your abductor and adductor muscles.
Be it golf or any other sport, you cannot have a complete stretch without exercising the hamstrings. These large muscles are responsible for moving your hips, knees, and balancing some of the weight to your lower back. Golf requires a lot of bending at the knees and hip movements. Without the flexibility of these muscles, not only does your golf game suffer, but so does your overall mobility.
Want to Learn More About Stretching for Golf?
Assisted stretching has innumerable benefits for your overall health. As a bonus, having nimbler, more flexible muscles mean improving your motion and by extension, your golf game. If you are ready to feel, move, and golf better, reach out to StretchZone today and request your complimentary 30-minute stretch.