Recreational golf is about enjoying ourselves. The motivation for that enjoyment can be very different for all of us, but in my experience the majority of us enjoy our golf just a little bit more if were hitting the ball slightly better.
We know that structured practice is essential for perfecting our technique. Studies have shown that a golf specific conditioning programme can have significant benefits, but for most us we don’t have the time or impetus to engage in these activities on a regular basis.
A lot of golfers arrive and go straight to the tee and hit the ball but I think it would be unwise to ignore the possibility of getting our bodies to perform better by simply having a warm up procedure. Before you stop reading I’m not talking about arriving an hour early going through a vigorous athletic routine and then hitting 50 balls on the range! I’m simply advocating a few stretches for a few minutes and here’s why!
Firstly although most injuries in golf are repetitive strain injuries, most sport physios would recommend some kind of warm up to help prevent these injuries increasing. Although undoubtedly this is important I have always had an interest on how it affects our performance as a golfer. Up until fairly recently studies in relation to golf specific performance and warm-up were few in number. Now thankfully there has been a lot more research in countries like Australia and America looking at this topic especially with recreational golfers in mind. Here are some of the beneficial effects that have been found using a warm up before golf.
General body warm up increases blood flow and body temperature, which speeds up muscle contraction. It also increases blood flow to the brain which enhances alertness and cognitive function. Dynamic stretching (stretching utilizing momentum) and specific motor rehearsal enhance coordination of muscle sequences, plus postural control.
Another study that measured the effects a warm up had on clubhead speed (potential distance) found that in all categories of golfers clubhead speed increased after a warm up routine before playing.
My intention in this article was to get you to think about the benefits of warming up and doing some stretching before you play – it wasn’t intended to give you a specific set of exercises however here’s a few things to look out for:
See if you can get your heart rate up a little to get the blood flowing to the muscles better, particularly if you have been sat in a car for a while
Do moving dynamic stretching not static stretching, in other words don’t hold your stretches for much longer than 5 seconds (leave the static stretching for the gym)
Stretch your sides first and your chest.
Do shoulder rotations and trunk rotations (not shoulder tilts with club under your arms)
Add some co-ordinated movements like cross-overs
Maybe include a lower back and hip stretch
In all cases keep your form or posture good during all stretches so you get the benefit of the stretch
Air swings are an important activity to perform, but they do not constitute an appropriate warm up routine in themselves