Don’t forget to warm up for a better game of golf
What is a warm up?
In its simplest form a warm up is designed to ‘warm you up’! It should involve a short period of light exercise that gradually builds up intensity, involving a variety of different exercises and movements suitable for the activity you are about to undertake. It will increase the temperature of your bodies tissues, blood flow and heart rate.
Why do a warm up ?
You wouldn’t expect a sprinter to simply get out of a car after a 30 min drive and then go straight to the start line and start a race without getting their body ready for the race. The same goes for golfers. The golf swing is an explosive powerful movement that places huge stresses on the body and not being ready before you start can lead to reduced performance and injury risk.
The golf swing requires flexibility and mobility of multiple areas but at the same time stability and control of movement through these ranges. Particular areas that need mobility and more focus in the warm up include the back, shoulders, hips/pelvis and any other areas that you may have any restriction or problems with.
Some exercises should then be performed that aim to get the bodies tissues primed, switched on & ready for activity that stimulate the neuromuscular systems of the body for the explosive/coordinated activity of the golf swing.
It is designed to ensure you start your game of golf primed and ready to perform at your best from the first shot.
What warm up exercises should I use to improve my golf
Evidence is emerging that suggests whilst flexibility of musculoskeletal structures in certain parts of the body is important for the golf swing, the immediate effects of passive sustained stretching has been linked with an immediate reduction in specific sports performance, including golf. These are stretches where you hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds and longer. Whilst this used to be thought of as a good way to warm up it has now been demonstrated that there is an immediate reduction in strength immediately after passive stretching. Which in turn has been shown to reduce immediate performance in many sports including golf.
However an improvement in performance of the golf swing has been shown when eliminating static stretching and only performing active dynamic stretches during warm up. This type of stretching involves quicker movements in and out of range. For example in a standing position swinging a leg forward and backwards slowly increasing range and tempo to get the hip joint moving and getting the hamstrings warmed up.
It has also been shown that warm up exercises using elastic type resistance bands involving rotational movements can also have benefits on golf performance.
How it Benefits your golf game
Performing a suitable warm up has been shown to have several benefits to your immediate golf performance including increased maximal driving distance and improved consistent ball strike and smash factor.
How to do a warm up for golf
The warm up should start by gently getting the whole body ready for activity by doing some light cardio to gradually raise the heart rate and blood flow. This could be a brisk walk, cycling, jogging, star jumps or step-ups or a combination of these for between 5-10 minutes. You may then want to work on some mobility exercises, particularly those that target key areas of tightness you may have or are typical in golfers. This includes foam roller exercises and dynamic movement stretches such as open the books, worlds greatest stretch, seated thoracic rotations. You can then progress to exercises that start to prime key muscle groups involved in stabilization of joints and the creation of power used in the golf swing. There are a huge number of these type of exercises to choose from and you may want to pick 4-5 to spend 60 seconds on each. This could include glut bridges, squats, lunges, supermans (in 4 point kneeling) and even medicine ball throws.
Hopefully at this point you should have spent around 20 minutes on the warm up and should now be ready to go out and make the most of your practice or game of golf !
European Tour Performance Institute & Physio Unit