Golf Fitness - Should You Stretch?
by Ken Macdonald, Lifetime Performance
The golf swing is an intricate system of moving parts that involve the combined efforts of the nervous, muscular and skeletal systems. Adequate function of each is a requirement for generating accuracy, distance and club head speed. A typical assumption made by many players is that total body stretching before a round of golf will be beneficial in preventing injury and creating accurate and powerful shots. This may not be entirely true. In a recent study by National Strength and Conditioning Association, researchers found that applying a whole body, golf specific static stretching (holding a stretch for a given amount of time) routine for 20 minutes before testing for driver speed and accuracy was detrimental to performance. Fifteen golfers were measured and were found to have decreases in club head speed (-4.19%), distance (-5.62%), accuracy (-31.04%) and consistent ball contact (-16.34%).
The scary thing is that with most of the amateur golfers doing a warm up before their round, the routine probably consists of this type of stretching. Now this begs the question, should we even warm up our bodies at all before we play? Research has shown that yes, we do need carry out a warm up before we play, but it needs to be more dynamic in nature. It is theorized that static stretching increases laxity of the tendons reducing the force producing capabilities of the muscles. Additionally, the reflexes of the muscles may slow down and the neuromuscular coordination needed for swing efficiency becomes altered.
So what should we do? Reports have shown that through a proper warm up, performance can be increased by up to 20%. This is recognized most by the players on tour. During the Honda Classic most of the players were in the gym or the trailer before their tee times taking their bodies through dynamic warm-ups consisting of exercises designed to increase core temperature, increase muscular blood flow, enhance golf specific movements, and increase speed of muscular contraction. Typical dynamic warm-up exercises are lunge movements, torso rotations, shoulder circles, squats, bridges, and pulling and pushing exercises. The weight, if any, would be very light and generally only one set is performed.
For more information or to see a short video on what exercises to do before you play, check out www.lifetimeperformancepbg.com