The 3 Best Stretches for Golf
Improve your golf and minimize injuries with 3 of the best golf stretches.
by Brad Walker | First Published October 14, 2010 | Updated May 8, 2019
In 1764, the standard 18-hole golf course was created when members of the St Andrews club modified the course from 22 to 18 holes. The world’s oldest golf tournament is The Open Championship, which was first played on October 17, 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Muscles used in Golf
The golf swing comprises four elements: the back-swing, down-swing, ball strike and follow-through.
For rotation during the back-swing, the upper back muscles are used. These muscles also help players maintain an erect spine. To position the upper body and generate speed, the shoulder muscles come into play. To generate torque and increase club head speed, the core and lower back muscles are used (especially erector spinae muscles and latissimus dorsi muscle when turning). Forearm muscles are used to control the golf club as well as to support the wrists.
Hamstring muscles play an important role in helping players maintain proper posture, while the quadriceps and calf muscles assist with balance and help players to flex their knees.
Most Common Golf Injuries
The golf swing requires a combination of shoulder movement through a wide range of motion at high speed, and strong rotation of the trunk. Both movements produce risk of injury, as do other aspects of the game. Common golfing injuries include:
- Herniated disks;
- Upper and lower back strain;
- Shoulder injuries, including shoulder tendinitis, bursitis and impingement syndrome. Rotator cuff tendinitis and/or strain.
- Elbow injuries, including Golfer’s Elbow (medial epicondylitis) and elbow bursitis;
- Wrist and hand injuries, including Carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger finger and DeQuervain’s tendinitis; and
- Knee injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain and meniscus tear.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Thorough conditioning and proper swing mechanics are both essential in helping to prevent golf injuries. Many injuries occur early in the season before proper conditioning has taken place. Include the following strategies before, during and after your golf game:
- Always take time to warm up and stretch before playing golf, as cold muscles are more prone to injury.
- Allow for an adequate cool-down period and perform gentle stretches after playing golf.
- Include aerobic fitness training to help prevent fatigue (and breakdown of good technique) in the later stages of the game.
- Adding regular strength training for the shoulders, chest, back, core and forearms will help avoid a breakdown of good technique.
- Improving flexibility in the muscles and joints (especially around the shoulder and core) will reduce the stress on these areas while playing.
- Stay well hydrated by drinking water every 15 minutes even if you do not feel thirsty.
Attention to technique is critical to avoiding injury. Getting advice from a coach or pro on the mechanics of proper swing technique is the best way to improve your swing. Here are some other tips for perfecting your technique and reducing the strain on your body:
- Keep the spine vertical during the follow-through, avoiding any hyperextension.
- Shorten the length of the back swing, ending with the club head at a 1 o’clock rather than 3 o’clock position.
- Slow the velocity of the swing in order to produce less shock to the arms and shoulders when the ball is struck.
- Select larger and softer club grips.
- Select irons with larger heads and lower vibration.
- Graphite shafts can lessen vibration.
- Select the correct club length.
The Benefits of Golf Stretches
Muscle strain and sore muscles are common among golfers. By performing regular golf stretches, you’ll improve your flexibility and increase your range of motion, which will relax your swing and improve accuracy, increase confidence and the ability to swing faster and harder.
Regular golf stretches can also help prevent common golf injuries. And finally, even the most basic golf stretches can just make you feel better. Glossing over it in your regular golf training, however, could cost you dearly.
The 3 Best Golf Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.
Below are 3 of the best stretches for golf; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.
Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Bent Arm Upper Back and Shoulder Stretch: Stand upright and place one arm across your body. Bend your arm at 90 degrees and pull your elbow towards your body.
Reaching Lateral Side Stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, then slowly bend to the side and reach over the top of your head with your hand. Do not bend forward.
Lying Knee Roll-over Lower Back Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.
Watch the Golf Stretches video
Click on the play button below if you prefer to follow along to a 10 minute video of the best stretches for golf.
These golf stretches are best done after your golf training or game, as part of your cool down. They can also be done as a stand-alone stretching session to improve your golf flexibility, but make sure you’re fully warmed up before starting the stretches.
Get more of the best Golf Stretches here
Research and References
- Walker, B. (2011). The Anatomy of Stretching, 2nd Edition (ISBN: 978-1583943717)
- Wikipedia contributors. (2019, May 1). Golf, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
- Meira, P. Brumitt, J. (2010). Minimizing Injuries and Enhancing Performance in Golf Through Training Programs. Sports Health, 2(4): 337–344.
- McHardy, A. Pollard, H. (2005). Golf and upper limb injuries: a summary and review of the literature. Chiropractic and Osteopathy, 13: 7.
- Brandon, B. Pearce, P. (2009). Training to prevent golf injury. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 8(3), 142-146.
- Fradkin, A. Sherman, C. Finch, C. (2004). Improving golf performance with a warm up conditioning programme. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(6), 762-765.
- Moran, K. McGrath, T. Marshall, B. Wallace, E. (2009). Dynamic stretching and golf swing performance. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 30(02), 113-118.
- Kokkonen, J. Nelson, A. Eldredge, C. Winchester, J. (2007) Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(10), 1825-1831.
- Shellock, F, Prentice, W. (1985) Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports Medicine, 2(4):267-78.
- Fradkin, A. Zazryn, T. Smoliga, J. (2010) Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1):140-8.
About the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.