Should I Warm Up Before Golf? 


Most golfers head to the first hole to tee off without taking time to warm up. Without a proper warm-up before golf, your body won’t be prepared for the repetitive stresses you’ll encounter during a four- to five-hour round.

You see it all the time, golfers rushing to the driving range to spray a few balls, taking a few putts on the practice green, grabbing the foot and pulling it up, bending forward to touch their toes, and then they are trying to crush it off the first tee. The golfers you do see stretching are usually performing traditional stretches — holding each position for 15-30 seconds (static stretching) in the manner many of us learned in P.E. growing up. However, ample evidence shows that static stretching prior to dynamic activities such as golf can hinder performance rather than enhance it.

Golf warm-up: dynamic vs. static stretching

The golf swing is a very dynamic activity. There are numerous moving parts, and those parts are moving in several different planes. The average golf swing takes less than 1.25 seconds. Static stretching – where you hold individual muscles for 15-30 seconds – does not adequately prepare these moving parts for what needs to happen during the time it takes to perform the golf swing.

Alternatively, dynamic stretching consists of using sport-specific movements to prepare the body for activity. During a dynamic stretching routine, you move through ranges of motion and hold each end position for only 1-5 seconds. These movements often mimic the positions and movements that are involved in the dynamic activity you’re warming up for, such as golf. The speed and reach of the movement can be increased with repetition as the muscles heat up.

Ideally, even prior to dynamic stretching, golfers should do an activity such as walking or riding a stationary bike for 5-15 minutes to increase their core temperature.

Static stretching has been shown to neurologically “deaden” a muscle for a time. You could also think of this as the muscle being “put to sleep” which is not ideal for increasing sport-specific performance. As you stretch for a prolonged time, the brain is not able to effectively monitor the change in length due to disengagement of the system, which links muscle length to movement. You may have noticed a slowed reaction time or feeling “out of sync” if you have done several static stretches just prior to dynamic activity. If prior to a round of golf a muscle is trained to gradually stretch over 30 seconds, but really needs to stretch in a half-second then it is easy to see why static stretching does very little to prepare the body for golf.

Static stretching, however, may have a place in your general flexibility program to maintain or gain overall muscle length due to asymmetry, previous injury, or general tightness. After your round of golf, or later in the evening, may be a better option for this type of stretching.

If you were about to engage in a static activity, static stretching might well prepare you for it. If you are about to play a round of golf, dynamic stretching is necessary to get your parts moving and ready to perform.

For example, putting your foot up on a bench, bending forward to touch your toe and holding that position for 30 seconds would be considered a static stretch. However, if you put your foot on the bench, bent forward, and then rotated your torso back and forth mimicking the rotation needed for the golf swing, this would be considered a dynamic stretch.

Dynamic stretching should not be confused with ballistic stretching which can be dangerous. Bouncing or aggressively moving in and out of a stretch very quickly can create injury. It must be emphasized that dynamic stretching be performed in gradually increasing movements, while avoiding pain, and holding anywhere between 1-5 seconds.


Dynamic pre-round warm-up

Remember, next time you head to the golf course, without a proper warm-up your body won’t be prepared for the repetitive stresses you’ll experience during 18 holes. Be sure you take time to do your golf warm-up exercises before you tee off. The following video features a quick way to get your body ready to move on the golf course. These dynamic stretches combine lower-body stability with upper-body mobility.
Consider showing up to the golf course early enough to add the moves featured in the next video to your dynamic warm-up as well. Loosening up your entire body prior to teeing off is one of the best ways to ensure you avoid injury.

Experts in Sports Injury Recovery

If you have any questions about golf-specific fitness or golf-related injuries, or you have an injury or pain that is keeping you from enjoying your golf game, our physical therapists can help. We are committed to providing effective, efficient and compassionate care to help you return to pain-free sport.

a woman squats down to assess her next golf shot
Golf Swing

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