By Kai Fusser, M.S. with Karen Palacios-Jansen
What does your warm up routine look like before you make your first swing of the day? Do you get out of their car, drive a cart to the range, do a couple of static stretches and think you are good to go? This type of warm-up has been around for so long, and is ingrained in almost every golfer’s head, as to imply it is the only way to get ready to play. What golfers don’t realize is that the golf swing is a violent movement that is not natural and takes a high degree of coordination. Doing static stretches before you play has no benefit and could even harm you if you stretch “cold” ligaments and tendons.
There is no evidence that stretching will prevent injury or improve performance, but there is evidence that a dynamic warm up, that includes some cardiovascular and resistance exercises, before you play can reduce risk of injury and enhance your performance. As the Director of Fitness at the ANNIKA Academy, I work with numerous tour players including Annika Sorenstam. When she played on tour, many times she would do a full workout in the morning before her round as part of her pre-round routine. She felt that these workouts would help her relax, take of the edge off and get her mind in tune with her body. Keep in mind that she spent years conditioning her body, but the point is you should spend time warming up before a round. Warming up will increase the body’s core temperature loosening up muscles making them elastic, supple and pliable.
Most high-handicap players, because of their low efficiency movements, spend up to 95 percent of their total energy output on a swing with very poor results. A dynamic warm up will not only “wake up” the body’s nervous system, but also prepare it for the high demand movements required to make it more efficient, so you don’t have to work so hard to make a good swing. If you have been accepting the “norm” of static stretching before you play, then it is time to re-think your pre-round routine.
A proper warm up does not need to take a tremendous amount of time. Four to five minutes will do the trick. Try this basic warm up routine; demonstrated by one of my student’s LPGA Tour player Sandra Gal, the next time you play. It will not only loosen your body up to swing more efficiently, but this routine will get you into a good frame of mind to start your round out right.
|Jump Rope –|
Jumping rope can be done anywhere and is an excellent way to warm up the entire body within a few minutes. It will also stimulate your nervous system that is the connection between your mind, hands and feet. Jump rope for one to three minutes.
|Jumping Jacks – |
Jumping Jacks are also an efficient way to warm up the body as well. Performing jumping jacks require coordination helping you hone your motor skills. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.
Shoulder Rotations –
Simple shoulder rotations will help you warm up your body and help you increase your shoulder turn in the golf swing. Keeping your arms and shoulders relaxed; engage your core muscles as you rotate. Minimize lateral movement by thinking you are rotating inside of a cylinder. Do 12-15 repetitions.
|Standing Lunge with Rotation – |
Performing a standing lunge with rotation will wake up your gluteus muscles, test your balance and warm up your spine. Again, maintain a relaxed upper body as you engage your core muscles. Maintain your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Perform 6-8 rotations on each leg.
Push Ups –
Push ups, although not thought of, as a warm up exercise, is a great exercise to create a solid connection between your hands and feet enabling you create a solid foundation for your swing. Feel that your abdominals pull the body up into position as you push up. Perform 6-10 repetitions.
Kai Fusser, M.S. is Director of Fitness at the ANNIKA Academy in Reunion, Florida. For more information visit www.theannikaacademy.com. Special thanks to our model LPGA Tour Professional Sandra Gal. Gal had her best LPGA finish this year at the Corning Classic finishing T-5.
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