Properly priming the muscles used in your golf swing can reduce injuries and add distance to your drives.
Amateur golfers spend thousands of dollars each year on lessons, custom driver fittings, and balls that promise to add distance to their drives. But, according to a 2018 research study published by golf biomechanists Ben Langdown, PhD, and Jack Wells, PhD, there is a cost-free way to increase clubhead speed and add carry distance to your average drive.
It’s not a gimmick. It’s a simple golf warmup routine.
While this seems like a no-brainer, recreational and competitive golfers alike are often guilty of teeing off for a round without so much as a cursory stretch. In fact, one study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, surveyed 1,040 amateur golfers and discovered that 46 percent of them did no warmup at all, and of the 54 percent that did, the warmup consisted of only a few dry swings on the tee box.
But the research done by Langdown and Wells showed that a warmup that consists of dynamic stretching, including squats and forward and lateral lunges, increased drive carry distance an average of 4.4 yards over a control group that hit 20 balls with no stretching. Furthermore, a warmup consisting of five exercises performed with resistance bands, including speed skaters, lateral walks, and spinal rotations, increased drive carry distance an average of 5.75 yards. However, one outlier in the study group was able to increase carry distance 37.5 yards with a dynamic warmup and 44.5 yards with the resistance band routine.
Why? Because while many golfers think of the sport as a gentle one that people of any age and fitness level can play, the golf swing is actually a very explosive action that generates a lot of force and requires the body to absorb that force in a very short period of time.
“The golf swing is a dynamic movement, and you 100 percent have to prepare the body to absorb that power,” says Deb Ryan, Titleist Performance Institute Certified Coach and founder of Redi4Golfn. “Taking the time to turn on the muscles you’ll be using in your golf swing, such as the core, glutes, quads, and back muscles, can both increase performance and prevent injury.”
In addition to regularly working on your mobility and flexibility with Tonal’s Yoga and Mobility for Golfers workouts, you can also create a warmup routine you can perform right before you hit the course. Here’s how.
1. Elevate Your Core Body Temperature
This is especially important if you’ve had a long drive to the golf course, because sitting for long periods can deactivate the glute muscles, a key muscle group for a strong swing. Elevating your core body temperature will also increase blood flow and circulation to deliver oxygen to the muscles before beginning your dynamic warmup exercises. Walk a few laps around the parking lot, jog in place or do some high-skips or jumping jacks. “Even vigorous arm circles are enough to get your heart pumping and your blood moving,” Ryan says.
2. Forget Static Stretches
Static Stretches are those in which you hold a single position for a longer period of time, typically greater than 30 seconds. Static stretches should be used as a cool-down after a workout to increase flexibility, decrease soreness, improve muscle recovery and prevent injury, rather than as a warm-up before a workout, as they have been shown to significantly reduce power output.
3. Focus On Dynamic Stretches
Dynamic stretches are active yet controlled movements that take joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles through their full ranges of motion. They are not held for a length of time. These movements focus on mobility and should be used as a pre-workout warmup to improve speed, agility and acceleration. As a warmup for golf, dynamic stretches should target and activate the muscles used in your golf swing. Ryan suggests taking 15 to 20 minutes to do a few sets of bodyweight squats, knee hugs, forward and lateral lunges, spinal twists, and push-ups before hitting the range or the course.
If you have a resistance band, Ryan also recommends doing some lower and upper body exercises to further activate your golf muscles. Try a crab walk by sitting into a partial squat with the band just above your knees, then taking small side steps in each direction to activate the glutes and legs. To wake up the upper back, stand tall and hold the band in front of your chest then pull the band apart while retracting the shoulder blades as if you were trying to squeeze a pencil between them.
4. Remember, It’s a Warmup
You should not work so hard in your dynamic warmup that it begins to feel like a workout or creates fatigue, but you should do enough that you feel warm, limber and ready to go before you pick up your golf clubs.
“Many professionals say they could skip that range session and hit their first tee ball perfectly after simply turning on the muscles with a dynamic warmup,” Ryan says.