Training Tips: Stretching and Warming Up
While all of us know that the more flexibility we have, the better we will feel and the better our golf game will be, most of us just don’t do it. One reason for me is that it is just plain boring. Another reason is that it is simply not part of a daily routine. This section is not about whipping you into peak physical condition. Nor will there be an expectation that you will spend an hour a day working on your flexibility. Again, the purpose of this report is to help you do what is achievable rather than ideal.
First and foremost, you should talk to your Doctor before starting any type of exercise program, even one as benign as this. The goal here is simply to improve your flexibility, not increase your heart rate. Always take a stretch only to the point where it reaches the limit of comfort. Never try to feel the burn and never bounce. Both of those are sure fire ways to hurt yourself.
Can you spare 5 minutes per day? That is what I recommend you start with. Try to get your stretching done at the same time every day. In this way, it will become a part of your routine and as you do it daily there is a very good chance that you will want to do more and more stretching which will improve your golf game and maybe even your life.
The reason I chose 5 minutes is because all of us have 5 minutes and it is pretty underwhelming when you think about it. All of the sections of this book are geared toward incremental improvement. As you start to achieve small victories, it will encourage you to push a little harder.
Start with the first stretch that we all learn as children. Put your feet shoulder width apart and have a slight flex at the knees. Bend at the waist and reach towards your toes. Just do what feels comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds and stand up. You want to do this 3 times. What I like about this simple stretch is that you can actually see your improvement as you get farther and farther down each day. Little victories!
Next, bring your right leg up to approximately waist high and place it on a chair or desk. Try to keep the leg straight and bend at the waist as you try and touch your right knee with your head. Do not overdo this but keep it comfortable. Do this 3 times with each leg.
Find an open spot on the wall and stand about a foot away with your feet together. Lean into the wall and move your right foot back about 6 inches. Now try to push your right heel into the ground. You will feel your right calf muscle stretch. Again, you want to do this 3 times with each leg.
All of these stretches will give you more strength and flexibility in your lower body. This in turn will help you hit the ball farther but also feel better after the round. The more ambitious of you reading this will want to do these stretches and the ones that follow both before and after every round.
To stretch your wrists and forearms, hold your right hand straight out and use your left hand to bend and pull your right hand down then turn your hand upside down and repeat. These are great stretches for your hands and can be done just about anywhere. Do both hands both ways at least 3 times.
To stretch your upper arms, take a golf club in your left hand and reach behind you so you can grab it over your shoulder with your right hand. Then pull down with your left hand. Repeat with your opposite hand. This is a good one to do on the tee as you wait for your turn to hit.
This next one is my favorite because it mimics the golf swing and makes me feel like I am really helping my game. It is important that you do this the correct way for 2 reasons. First, you don’t want to hurt yourself. Second, this stretch is one you will want to hold in your mind for later because it is the basis for everything I teach.
Take a golf club and put it behind your neck. Hold it with both hands a comfortable width apart. Bend slightly at the waist, just like you would as you address the ball. It will actually help if you place a ball where it would normally be as you were getting ready to hit. Here is where you want to be careful. The basis of everything I teach is proper spine angle and rotating around your spine. With this exercise, you should focus on keeping your head in the same spot and turning your shoulders so that eventually your left shoulder will be underneath your chin. One of the biggest problems that I see repeated over and over is swaying. This will be addressed later but doing this stretch properly will go a long way towards controlling sway. Finish the stretch as you would your swing.
What is your routine when you arrive at the golf course? I have always liked to get there early. There is just something about being at a golf course in the morning. You can joke with the bag drop folks and pro shop people. You can relax and get warmed up while not feeling rushed. To each his own, though.
On the day you are playing, you should do some stretching at home then get to the course with at least enough time to hit a few putts. In my mind, tempo is critical in not only not only your swing but your state of mind. We have all played with someone who shows up at the last minute and ties their shoes after their tee shot. Is it really any wonder that they have not brought their A game? You should experiment with different routines until you find the right one for you. At a minimum, you want to get to the first tee relaxed and ready to start your round. If your goal is to improve 1 shot per round why not see if you can do it right out of the gate?