A Physical Therapist’s Guide to a Successful Golf Season
With the warmer weather of springtime arriving, a lot of people enjoy getting back outside for activities, and golf is a favorite for many. If you have been inactive over the winter, stretching may help prep your body to avoid some early season aches and pains. We’ve all heard that stretching helps prevent injury, but immediately before or after a round of golf may not be the best time to stretch. Most current evidence shows that there is minimal effect on reducing muscle soreness with pre-/post-round stretching¹⁻³.
So does this mean you don’t need to stretch? In short- No! You should still be addressing areas that are tight, but it needs to be done in the weeks or months before you start playing. You will get the most benefit out of performing these stretches as a daily routine for a few weeks before your season kicks off. Gradually increasing flexibility and range of motion in your muscles and joints will promote a more balanced swing and reduce likelihood of post-round soreness. If you have already started playing, it’s not too late! You can add a stretching routine in as little as 15 minutes.
Start stretching today and continue throughout the season to help stave off those pesky mid-season sprains and overuse injuries.
These 6 easy stretches below will address several of the major joints most involved in swinging the golf club. As always, check with your doctor or therapist before starting an exercise program. These should be gentle stretches, so if something doesn’t feel right- do not force it.
Hold each stretch 30 seconds unless otherwise noted and run through 2-3 cycles of each stretch for both arms and legs.
1. Wrist Flexors and Extensors- Start with the left arm in front of you with elbow straight and palm facing up, pull your fingers down with the right hand until you feel a stretch in the left forearm. Then flip your palm down and pull the fingers and wrist down to stretch the wrist extensors. Repeat on right side.
2. Shoulder Posterior Capsule- Start left arm straight in front of you with the thumb pointing up. Place right hand under the left elbow on the upper arm and pull the left arm across your body until you feel a stretch in the back of the left shoulder. Repeat on right side.
3. Chest Stretch- With your hands behind your back and palms together, lace your fingers together and lift your arms away from your hips until you feel a stretch in the front of your chest and shoulders.
4. Trunk Twists- With a golf club across the front of the shoulders and arms crossed in front of the chest holding the club, bend forward like you are addressing the ball and rotate one direction holding comfortable stretch for 5 seconds. Then rotate opposite direction and hold 5 seconds, repeat ten times.
5. Hamstring Stretch- Start with your right leg in front of you with the heel on the ground and toes/ankle flexed back toward your shin. Keep your trunk and spine straight, and hinge forward at the hip reaching for your toes until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg. Repeat on the left leg.
6. Hip Figure-4 Stretch- Use a club to help balance and start standing on your right leg with the left knee bent, and left foot resting above the right knee. Bend the right hip and knee as if you were starting to sit back into a chair until you feel a stretch in the outside of the left hip. Repeat on other leg.
We hope these exercises help get you excited for golf season this year! Feel free to contact SERC Physical Therapy for more exercises that could be beneficial for you!
- Herbert RD, De Noronha M, Kamper SJ. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD004577.pub3
- Van Hooren, B., Peake, J.M. Do We Need a Cool-Down After Exercise? A Narrative Review of the Psychophysiological Effects and the Effects on Performance, Injuries and the Long-Term Adaptive Response. Sports Med 48, 1575–1595 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-018-0916-2
- Jamtvedt G, Herbert RD, Flottorp S, et al. A pragmatic randomised trial of stretching before and after physical activity to prevent injury and soreness. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2010;44:1002-1009.