Have you ever gone to the golf course, got out of the car and went straight to the first tee? If you are a golfer, chances are you have done this. I know I’m sometimes guilty of this! Why am I bringing this up? Well, my job as a TPI level 1 certified physical therapist is to prevent pain and help reduce or fix dysfunctional movement patterns that cause pain, and a simple warm-up could reduce your pain with golf and help you find your rhythm.
As sports continue to grow, fitness is key, and with every good athlete, there is a warm-up. Warming up on the driving range is definitely helpful, but I would recommend something even before that. I am talking about getting in a good dynamic stretching routine/warm-up before you play. A good routine, even only 5-10 minutes, can help your muscles get ready to perform and help you to feel more prepared for those first couple of holes versus coming in cold and stiff.
Golf is a rotational sport, and that is where I would start. Some key areas I suggest focusing on are trunk mobility, hip (both left and right) mobility and symmetrical movements.
The trunk is a core piece of any swing, and having good mobility is crucial. Disassociating the upper trunk from the lower trunk will improve your fluidness through your swing and make your swing more efficient and maybe even more powerful. This can be tricky to learn and practice, but a simple way to start is to get into your swing position and try to rotate your chest without rotating your hips and vice versa. This can be a great exercise to add to any warm-up.
Everyone thinks about the trunk and torso moving and rotating, but they often neglect lower body movement. The legs are the foundation of every swing. Both hips must significantly rotate and move to perform adequate backswing and follow-through. I would work on hip stretching as part of your warm-up. Something simple is to perform single-leg balance while holding a golf club for stability and practice rotating on each leg. Start small and then work big.
Another idea to address during a warm-up is making sure you keep symmetry. Try and warm up to both sides, rotations to both sides and swings to both sides. Try and mirror yourself. Symmetry is key to preventing injury. During a golf round, you have x amount of swings all to one side. Having a good warm-up that helps keep balance and symmetry can go a long way.
Anything that can get the blood flowing through the body and prep the muscles and joints before a round can help reduce injury and rev up the golf swing, even if you skip the range before the round. There is a lot out there about what is best and how to go about warming up. Seeing a trained professional who can help guide you and set up a routine tailored to you is best, as well as instructing you on proper form and technique. Check our website to see how you can get set up with a TPI physical therapist like myself for a TPI assessment, including more in-depth analysis and a personalized home program to improve your golf game.