Golf season is upon us. The courses in the Okanagan are opening their doors and avid golfers are getting the first rounds of the season under their belts. Unless you’re a snow bird and golfed down south over the winter, you probably haven’t golfed for a few months. As a result, the muscles you relied on heavily last year to swing a club may be a little rusty. Golfers are more prone to injuries during the beginning of the season that any other time of year. A good warm-up and stretching program are beneficial to prevent injury this season. The following are a few tips to remember prior to hitting the links:
A low-intensity activity that uses large muscle groups should be performed prior to stretching. This gets your heart rate up, increasing blood flow to muscles. Walking for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or climbing stairs are examples of this.
Hold each of the following stretches for 20-30 seconds (do not stretch to the point of pain):
Forearm Stretches – With palm up and elbow straight, extend wrist and fingers back with opposite hand. Then with palm down and elbow straight, flex wrist and fingers down with opposite hand. Perform both stretches with opposite arm.
Neck Stretch – Place your hands behind your back and slowly side flex your neck so that your left ear moves towards your left shoulder. Stretch should be felt on the right side of the neck to the shoulder. Repeat stretch to the right to feel a stretch on the left side of the neck.
Shoulder Stretch – Hold the shaft of the club vertically behind your back. Pull the club upwards with the top hand until you feel a stretch in the shoulder of the bottom hand. Then pull the club downwards with the bottom hand until you feel a stretch in the shoulder of the top hand.
Quadriceps Stretch – Standing on one leg, pull your opposite foot towards your buttock with your hand. Keep both of your thighs together so that your knee is pointing towards the ground. Stretch should be felt on the front of the thigh. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Hamstring Stretch – Place one foot 2 feet in front of the other. Bend at the hips and lean forward towards the leg that is outstretched, pulling your toes up towards you. Stretch should be felt on the back of the upper leg. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Groin Stretch – With feet 2 to 3 feet apart and toes pointing straight ahead, bend one knee and keep the other knee straight. Shift your hips towards your bent knee, feeling a stretch in the groin of the straight leg. Repeat to the opposite side.
Trunk Rotation Stretch – With a club held horizontally in the small of your back, turn your trunk to one side without twisting your hips. Repeat to the opposite side.
Trunk Extension Stretch – With a club held horizontally in the small of your back, arch your back backwards, keeping your knees straight. Hold this stretch for only a few seconds.
Trunk Side Flexion Stretch – Side bend your trunk to one side by sliding one hand down the side of your thigh. Repeat to the opposite side.
After you stretch, start by gently swinging an iron. Ensure that you start with half swings, gradually increasing your back swing. This drill should be performed both right and left handed. If there is a driving range available, practice your swing mechanics before your tee time. This will help to further warm-up your muscles for your round of golf.