Stretching spine key for golf fitness
Special to the Sun
Even the most seasoned golfers know that playing golf can cause aches and pains. But incorporating stretching into a fitness program can increase a golfer’s flexibility, which lessens the chance of injury and directly relates to generating more swing power for greater distance and club-head speed.
The spine is the most important body part to stretch. Muscle tissue needs to be stretched and joints require mobility. As joints stiffen, movement decreases. Maintaining proper spine mobility not only slows down the aging process, but it improves a golfer’s range of motion.
Here are five mobility stretching exercises to improve golf performance:
– Cats and Dogs: This stretch targets the spine’s full range of motion. Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Put your chin to your chest and lift the lower back to the ceiling. (Reverse) Look at the ceiling. Relax your stomach, pushing it toward the floor and stick your rear end out. Repeat 10-20 times.
– Cobra Stretch: The Cobra Stretch stretches the lower and upper back. Lay on your stomach. Place your finger tips near your shoulders, keeping your arms next to your sides. Gently lift up your upper body, putting little weight on your hands and elbows. Be certain to keep your hip bones on the floor. Slowly lower yourself down and repeat. Hold each stretch 15-30 seconds. Repeat three-five times.
– Forward Curl: This curl stretches and lengthens the spine. Sit on your heels. Bring your chin to your chest and curl forward until your forehead is gently resting on the floor. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Release and slowly sit upright. Repeat three-five times.
– Half Kneeling Long Turns: Long Turns loosen the movement of each vertebra. Start by kneeling. Take your right foot and place it in front of you, so that your left knee is still on the ground, in a half kneeling position. Grab each end of a golf club and lift it above your head with your arms straight. Keep your head looking forward as you twist from left to right. Then bend from side to side. Repeat each stretch 10-20 times.
– Side-Lying Rotations: These stretches focus on your rotational range of motion. Lay on your right side and bring both knees to your chest. Use your right hand to hold your knees to the floor. Lift your left arm in the air and reach behind you. Hold each side for 15-30 seconds. Repeat three-five times.
The key to a good golf swing is head stability, spinal mobility and stability in the legs. Combined, these stretches target head and leg stability, as well as mobility of the spine. Start working on stretches now to increase joint mobility and muscle flexibility in order to add distance to your drive and improve your overall golf game.
Mark Tedsen is the golf fitness instructor for Tahoe Mountain Club (TMC), which is part of Tahoe Mountain Resorts. He is a certified Titleist Fitness Instructor and practices physical therapy, specializing in golf fitness, at The Center for Health and Sports Performance in Truckee. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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