We’re all guilty of rushing to a celebratory round of drinks with friends after playing a round, but by skipping a simple stretch routine we’re inhibiting our long-term ability to perform well on the course. The science behind stretching is sound, and the athletic community now knows that static stretching after physical activity is as important as the activity itself. In fact, stretching is so important many PGA TOUR players hire therapists to travel with them to perform therapeutic stretches on them daily.
When stretching after activity, it is important to hold the stretch for a minimum of 30-seconds. Holding it for any duration greater than 30-seconds is great, but holding any less will not allow the body’s sensory receptors to communicate to the muscle that it is okay to “relax” and “lengthen.” Whenever muscles are not purposely made to “relax” and “lengthen,” the body is at risk of developing muscular imbalances that inevitably lead to injury and/or tendinitis. Thirty seconds is always longer than we think it is, so use a stopwatch to ensure you’re holding the stretch an appropriate amount of time.
After hitting a bucket of balls at the range, or wrapping up a round on your favorite course, take three minutes to stretch. Doing so will limit injury, increase blood flow, reduce stiffness and positively affect performance. With that in mind, here are my three favorite post-play static stretches.
Upper Body Anterior Stretch
Keeping your arms in the “T-position,” use a doorway, TRX straps or stretch bar to lengthen your chest and anterior arm muscles. Keep your chin up, arms relatively straight and apply the stretch through the front of your shoulders and upper body. Keep your bellybutton pulled to your spine.
Upper Body Posterior Rotary Stretch
Use a TRX strap, 2-iron or stretch bar to force your mid and upper back to gently swivel around the spine. Apply pressure down to feel the full stretch in the back of your shoulders and the meat of your back. Keep your bellybutton pulled to your spine and stretch each side.
Lower Body/Back Rotary Stretch
While laying on your back, with your shoulders flat to the ground, rotate one leg gently over the other to stretch your hips, lower back and piriformis. As always keep your bellybutton pulled to your spine and stretch each side.