Pro Tips For a Great Golf Warmup
As a no-contact sport that’s easy on the joints, the great thing about golf is that it’s relatively low-risk when it comes to injuries.
That being said, there are precautions you should take to protect yourself so you can enjoy the game pain-free well into your golden years. Though golf injuries often arise from pre-existing conditions or injuries, Don VanDeusen, assistant general manager at Fairway Hills Golf Club, shared that poor mechanics or overuse also can lead to issues (particularly in the lower back).
The most effective way to stay in shape on the course is with a proper warmup — not only does it protect your muscles, tendons and joints, but it also helps loosen you up and improve your game. Below, CA’s pros share their best tips for making the most out of your golf warmup!
Stretch it Out
By now, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of regular stretching — like improved circulation and enhanced flexibility. The benefits of stretching as a golfer are no different, and also aid in injury prevention by improving your range of motion and creating a more fluid golf swing. Another perk is that stretching encourages better posture, which is super important to avoiding neck and back strain on the course.
Joan Lovelace, head professional and general manager at Hobbit’s Glen Club, emphasized that golfers need to stretch their whole body prior to their first swing. After all, golf works your upper body, core and lower body, so supplying blood to all of these areas is essential (this is true whether you’re planning on playing for just a half hour or making a day of it).
Because of golf’s emphasis on swinging, the arms and shoulders are an especially important area to focus on.
“It’s crucial to stretch your forearms to prevent golfer’s elbow, which is a strain of the muscles on the inside of the elbow and the forearm,” said Lovelace. “Just pulling your arms across your body makes a difference. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or time-intensive; it’s just important to increase blood flow in this area, and to stretch and strengthen the tendons.”
According to Healthline, another proactive way to safeguard against golfer’s elbow is to gently stretch your wrists. Here’s how:
- Extend your affected arm in front of you with your fingers and palm facing up.
- Use your opposite hand to gently pull your fingers and wrist down toward your body.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Do 2–5 reps (you will feel this in the underside of your forearm!).
Five to 10 minutes of stretching is just fine, though that may vary depending on your age or if you have past injuries. Remember, if you don’t take the time to do it before your game, you’ll sabotage your first few tees by being stiff. Moves such as raising your arms above your head, reaching toward your toes, arm circles, wrist circles and body rotations (turning slowly from side to side) are all good ways to loosen up.
A brisk walk around the course or some jumping jacks are also good ways to get the blood flowing to your lower body so you can protect your hamstrings, lower back, quads and groin muscles.
Start With Smaller Swings
Before taking a full swing, start with a few quarter swings, followed by half swings and then three-quarter swings. After hitting about 15 balls at a short distance, you’re in a safe position to take a full swing. It’s best to take it nice and easy at first, since swinging too aggressively right off the bat will stress your joints.
It’s also wise to consider using a short iron to warm up. According to Lovelace, a common mistake is for golfers to begin their game by grabbing a driver.
“That can be a risky move because when you’re swinging your biggest clubs, your natural thought is, ‘I have to swing hard to make this go far,’” she said. “After using a short club, I’ll try a longer club, such as a 7 iron. I don’t want to reach for my driver just yet!”
There’s Power in the Putt
With 40+ years of golf experience, Lovelace explained that she can typically find her swing fairly quickly. Putting can be more elusive — every day is a little bit different on the putting range, depending on the weather. She encourages golfers of all levels to head to the putting green before teeing off.
“Remember, 40% of your score is in the putt,” said Lovelace. “If you don’t have any time to warm up on the range, warm up on the putting green. This can help you find your rhythm, get a feel for the speed of the greens and most importantly, build your confidence.”
Play It Smart With CA
The bottom line is, warming up is the safest, most effective way to get into the “swing” of things. Another wonderful way to prevent injury, of course, is to have professional guidance on proper form and mechanics. At CA, we offer both group classes and private lessons to help golfers launch their love of the game with a strong, safe foundation. Visit our website to learn more.