Stuck with your golf stretching routine?

Golf-stretching

APRIL 2015 – Do you experience muscle tightness during golf?  Does it take you more than 15 minutes to warmup before play or do you tighten up on the back nine?  Has your game flat-lined despite working with your golf pro?  Many golfers struggle with the sensation of tightness despite their golf stretching routine.

Let me start by saying, not all tightness is created equal and this issue is quite complex. The sensation of tightness is a result of a variety of issues including 1) poor dynamic warm-up, 2) muscle shortening after immobilization, 3) nerve sensitivity creating muscle guarding, 4) poor sequencing of muscles, and 5) muscle imbalance.

Dynamic warmup is crucial to increase body temperature, activate the nervous system for sport, which prepares your brain, and to decrease resting muscle stiffness. Warm-up for approximately 15 minutes before teeing off with a combination of brisk walking; large, repetitive, multi-joint movements; and practice swings. Avoid static stretching during your warmup as it increases your risk of injury during sport.

Sponsor-GolfStatic stretching is ideal for restoring muscles mobility and connective tissue post immobilization.  For example, after surgical immobilization static or sustained stretching can restore muscle length (adding sarcomeres in series) and improve mobility of connective tissues. Static stretching is also useful for those with tissue shortening due to repetitive postures like sitting all day. Hold static stretches 20-30 seconds to load the tissues. Avoid the temptation to perform static stretches prior to sport participation.

Muscle guarding is a protective tightness to unload irritated tissues like nerves. Muscle guarding is very common in hamstring, shoulder and neck issues. Stretching programs provide short-term relief at best and in some cases actually increase symptoms. To alleviate protective tightness, one must address the underlying reason for tissue irritation which is often related to poor posture and muscle imbalance.

Muscle sequencing (timing) is critical in rotation sports like golf. If your brain chooses a less efficient sequence or fails to time things properly you may find yourself struggling to complete your full rotation. Tightness or cramping for this reason is often worse on the back nine and stretching provides little long-term relief. You must identify and fix your recruitment sequence in order to stop this pattern of tightness.

Muscle imbalance is common when one muscle is over utilized (short) and an adjacent muscle is under-utilized (long).  Believe it or not, both short and long muscles develop trigger points and can create a sensation of tightness; however the long muscle requires different training strategies than the short muscle to alleviate the symptoms. A “long” muscle doesn’t need more stretching.

As you can see, not all tightness responds well to stretching. If you’re stuck with your golf stretching routine, find a movement specialist to help you understand the underlying cause of your tightness and implement strategies specific to your needs. Don’t forget to ensure adequate dynamic warm-up before teeing off.  For ideas regarding appropriate dynamic warm-up exercises check out the golf page at www.coreptkc.com.

Golf Dynamic Warm-Up

  1. Two-to-five minute brisk walk
  2. Forward and backward leg swings
  3. Side to side leg swings
  4. Upper body rotations
  5. Pelvic rotations
  6. Hip rotations
  7. Wrist and forearm movements
  8. Full body turns in golf stance

Article by Danielle Debbrecht, PT. Danielle is a physical therapist and movement specialist at CORE Strategies Physical Therapy, Sport Performance & Medical Fitness located in Overland Park.  The CORE team specializes in rehabilitation and performance training for clients of all ages and activity levels.  To learn more about CORE’s sport specific programs visit www.coreptkc.com.  Contact Danielle at danielle@coreptkc.com.

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