Stretches for improving your golf game

The golf swing places extreme stress on your body, increasing your risk of aches, pains and injuries. Proper stretching can lessen that risk and allow a golfer to play better — and longer. Learn key stretches you should do to aid your body in its recovery and lower your risk of injury.

Dec 1, 2020
Zachary Buechner, ATC

Though many normal activities are not happening right now, the golf world is still very much alive. Some may see golf as a leisure sport, which is hard to argue against. Socializing and driving a motorized cart doesn’t exactly spell out athleticism — at first glance. However, it is important to understand that the golf swing places extreme forces on the body, even if it lasts only between three and five seconds. Over the course of a round, this force can add up and, if not taken care of properly, can lead to aches, pains and injuries.

After winning the 2019 Masters Tournament, Tiger Woods described his intense workout and pre-round warm-up routine. “I’ll wake up around 4 a.m., maybe 3:45 a.m. [to] start the process of getting this body ready and get after it,” he said.

If Tiger Woods is waking up that early to get his body warmed up for 18 holes, I imagine it would be good for amateurs to take notes. 3:45am is a bit extreme for the average person, but a proper warm-up — and cool down — is essential to anyone who wants to find success and be pain-free on the golf course.

Dr. Ben Langdown with the Titleist Performance Institute conducted a study on proper stretching and warm-ups prior to a round of golf and the effect stretching has on the golf swing. There were 3 groups in his study – control (no warm-up), dynamic stretching group and a group that used resistance bands. His study concluded that the dynamic stretching and resistance bands groups increased ball speed and carry distance for the average golfer. If nothing else than simply maximizing distance, a good warm-up with proper stretching is vital.

Proper stretching is beneficial to the body in many ways, from the warm-up to the cool down. Golfers should not only stretch before a game, but after one, too. Recovering from the force that a golf swing places on the body must be an ongoing part of your routine. Otherwise, you will only reap half the benefits that stretching can give. It allows the body to bounce back from stasis (such as sleeping or lack of movement) or recover after a day’s game.So, what are some good stretches you can do to stay in optimal shape? Here are some that I recommend my clients:

Threading the needle

man stretching back

This exercise works the mobility of the thoracic spine. Start by getting on your hands and knees with your back parallel to the floor. Imagine you have a bucket of water sitting on your back. It will work best if you have a foam roller, but if not, you can still perform the exercise without one. With your palm face-up, reach underneath your torso as far as possible with your hand. Reach 12 times and then switch using your other arm.

Hip 90/90 stretch with T-spine rotation

man stretching his hips and back

This is a great stretch to work on mobility of the hips and mid-back. Start by making a 90-degree angle with both knees on the floor. Sit up tall with controlled breaths. If you are comfortable and want to take this stretch to the next level, rotate your torso and face your chest down towards the floor for a thoracic spine stretch. Then, switch legs and reverse the stretch to the opposite direction.

Back rotation stretch

man stretching his back

Grab a golf club and place it behind your back, with the club threaded around your elbows. Rotate the club keeping the lower body in place to the right and to the left. The objective is to get at least 45 degrees of rotation.

Hip flexors stretch

trainer stretching hip

This is a great stretch for the hips and can help get you using your lower body in the golf swing. Start by getting into a lunge position with your hands on your hips. Be sure that your lead knee starts directly above your heel — not out over your toes. Lean back while sliding your hips forward. To isolate different aspects of the hip flexor, rotate your back foot away from the centerline and slide forward again. Switch sides and repeat.

Just like any other sport, a proper stretch in golf is vitally important to optimizing your game and preventing injuries. Proper warm-ups and cool downs in golf are often overlooked and under-utilized, and yet more beneficial than you may realize.