Golfers are at risk for a variety of injuries, particularly as age sets in and joints and muscles stiffen. Many of these injuries involve the back, hips and legs. Fortunately, many of these tweaks and ailments can be averted by adhering to a stretching regimen before swinging a club. These stretches will keep the body loose, lowering the risk of injury and benefiting players on the course.
Practice Swinging Slowly
To stretch out the back before a round, simply rotate the shoulders and hips to about the same degree as in a backswing, doing so slowly in the early stages with a club to help loosen the muscles. Make sure to keep the spine vertical during follow-through to avoid hyperextension. Repeat as needed until the back feels loose. This stretch will loosens the back, making the body more able to pivot during the swing, decreasing the chance of injury and increasing the chances of a quality shot.
Reaching Lateral Side Stretch
To complete this stretch, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then slowly bend to one side while reaching over your head with the hand. From there, return to the middle and bend the other way, making sure not to bend forward. Repeat as needed. Stretching the sides is vital to a golf swing because of the amount of movement and torquing of the body during a swing. This stretch lowers the risk of a pulled muscle or other tweaks that can be experienced during a swing.
Reaching Down Triceps Stretch
To complete this stretch, reach behind the head with both hands and the elbows pointing upward. Then, reach down the back with the hands and return to center. Repeat until the arms feel loose and relaxed. The triceps help generate speed in a golf swing; keeping them loose and flexible is vital to a fluid swing and quality shots off the teebox or fairway.
Bent Arm Shoulder Stretch
Stand upright and place one arm across the body, then bend the arm 90 degrees and pull the elbow toward the body. Return to center and repeat with the other arm. Repeat until the arms feel loose and relaxed. Loose shoulders make the swing more fluid by eliminating the rigidness often encountered with stiff joints.
Knee to Chest Stretch
This exercise, which targets the lower back, begins by lying on one's back with the neck supported and body extended. From there, flex one knee and slide the foot toward the rear end, then grasp with both hands behind the flexed knee and pull toward the chest. Hold the stretch and relax, then exhale and re-extend the leg slowly to center, then repeat with the other leg. Do this twice for each leg, holding for 10 to 12 seconds. The lower back is one of the most important parts of the body for a golfer and completing this stretch will help improve a player's game while decreasing the risk of injury.
This stretch, as described by the Mayo Clinic, includes a golf club. To complete it, hold the club behind the shoulders. Standing next to a low table or tee bench, place the right foot on the step and bend the right knee slightly. From there, bend the upper body forward at the hips, making sure to keep the spine straight until a comfortable stretch is felt in the back of the right thigh. Hold this stretch while rotating the back and shoulders to the left and right. Repeat this stretch with the opposite leg until the hamstrings feel loose. This stretch will keep the hamstrings loose, vital due to the importance of the legs in any swing.