Fall is upon us, and that means cooler temperatures. In addition to layering up your clothes to stay warm on the golf course, it’s also important to warm up your muscles before starting to play. Cold temperatures cause muscles to tighten, which makes them more prone to injury. By doing a few stretching exercises before hitting the links, you’ll be playing safer and also might even improve your game.
Before you start, it’s important to keep in mind there are two types of stretching — static and dynamic. Static stretching is usually what comes to mind when thinking of stretching exercises. It’s reaching down to touch your toes or lunging forward to stretch your hamstring, all while holding the pose for an extended time. These stretches go a long way to increasing flexibility, but if done before playing golf they can have a negative impact on your performance. These stretches actually tighten your muscles, which may undermine your range of motion and make you more susceptible to injury. These stretches are best done after a workout, where the tightness won’t matter and you can use them to improve your flexibility.
Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, is done while moving. It’s a good way to get your blood flowing and your heart rate up just a little. These stretches also increase your range of muscle and power by reducing muscle stiffness.
Whether you’ve got an early morning tee-time when temperatures are in the upper 40s or if you’re playing on a cool, cloudy afternoon and enjoying temperatures in the 60s range, it’s definitely cooler air than back in the middle of the summer. Prepare by doing some of these stretches that will get you warm and keep you going.
Warm Up. Before starting any of the dynamic stretching exercises, it’s a good idea to warm up by walking or jogging for 3-5 minutes to get your heart rate up a little.
Golf Club Squats. Take a club and hold it overhead between your two hands. Squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Repeat 10 times.
Side Bends. This is another one with the golf club. This time place it on your shoulders with your arms around the club, letting it rest in the crook of your elbow. Keeping your torso straight, lean to one side and hold for 2 seconds, then lean to the other side and hold. Do 8-10 reps on each side.
Rotation Lunge. With the golf club still on the back of your shoulders, take a big step with your right leg into a lunge position. Then turn your upper body to face the right. Stand back up, and repeat with the left leg, turning to the left. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
Arm swings. This is exactly what the name says. With arms straight, swing them back and forth across your body for about 30 seconds.
Alternate Toe Touches. This helps stretch out those muscles, but because you’re still moving it keeps them from tightening up. Reaching down from your waist, touch your left toe with your right hand, return to a standing position, and then reach down to touch your right toe with your left hand.