Stretch before you swing

Many good rounds of golf have been ruined simply by not stretching prior to play. While you may think you can get away with running to the first tee with no warm-up, a pre-round stretching routine is a must not only to swing the club your best but to maintain your health. Always spend 5-10 minutes on a stretching routine either at home or at the course, focusing particularly on loosening your lower back, the area most prone to injury. Only after this stretching should you hit 15-20 easy warm-up shots on the practice tee, and only then should you tee off. The result will be not only a freer swing and better play but a greatly lessened chance of injury as well.

Loosen and limber lower back

When your lower back is stiff, your play will suffer because you won’t turn well enough to generate much force. If you don’t stretch anything else, at the very least, stretch your lower back before every round. Do this with the help of a golf cart. Stand to the side of the cart, bend your knees slightly and grasp either the seat handle or a roof support with both hands. Then sit back as far as you can while keeping your arms extended. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds, then repeat. You’ll immediately feel the difference.

Another good stretch for the lower back is as follows: Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent. Pull one knee in to your chest. Hold it there for five seconds as you feel the stretch in your lower back. Then pull your opposite knee into your chest and hold for a count of five. Repeat the exercise 10 times on each side. Your lower back will feel more limber immediately.

Left shoulder stretch

An area that receives a lot of stress in the golf swing, and needs to be kept supple and loose, is the left shoulder. It’s particularly important to keep it stretched prior to starting play. Here’s a simple way to do it: Take your left arm and extend it across your chest. Hook your right forearm in front of your left triceps. Slowly pull the left arm in as far as you can, feeling the stretch in the deltoid muscle. Hold for 15 seconds, rest, then repeat the exercise. This stretch reduces the chance of injury to the key area during the round.

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