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A commitment to stretching will benefit your game

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Every time you play golf, you turn, twist, bend, squat and walk. And even if you ride in a cart, you are repeating the same movements for four-to-five hours.

This can tighten your muscles and cause repetitive stress injuries, which happen when too much stress is placed on a part of the body, resulting in inflammation, muscle strain or tissue damage.

It’s no wonder that 53 percent of amateur golfers have sustained some sort of injury while playing golf. Maintaining and improving flexibility may be one of the easiest ways to prevent repetitive stress injuries that can occur while you play golf or when you do other daily activities.

So why is stretching so important?

• Research reports that regular stretching may be more effective than occasional stretching when it comes to preventing injuries.

• Stretching increases flexibility to improve overall fitness, muscular strength and endurance.

• Stretching can ease repetitive stress injuries, also called overuse syndrome. Stretching the muscles and tendons that become tight from repetitive movements combined with a strengthening program can prevent or help heal chronic conditions that golfers are susceptible to.

• Stretching keeps joints limber. Each joint has a different degree of movement, which is called 'range of motion.' Stretching properly can maintain an optimal range of movement to help you turn your shoulders and hips completely in the backswing and follow through.

• Stretching relieves stress, and stretching throughout the day, or even during a round of golf, may help you relax, swing more freely and help you focus.

Here are a few stretches that can be done on the golf course before, during or after your round to keep you loose, prevent injury and improve your flexibility.

Chest Stretch: Using a golf cart, hold onto to the riser of the cart with one hand about shoulder height. Stand at arm’s length away. Gently turn your body away from the golf cart to stretch your chest and shoulder. Breathe as you hold the stretch for five-to-seven seconds. Relax and then repeat on opposite side.

Back and Shoulder Stretch: Facing your golf cart, hold onto the top of the cart with both hands. Gently bend from your hip sockets, keeping your knees bent slightly and your spine straight. Breathe as you hold the stretch for five-to-seven seconds.

Trunk Rotation: Stand straight with a shoulder-width stance facing away from the cart. Rotate your trunk and turn to grab on the riser of the cart. Breathe and hold the stretch for five-to-seven seconds. Return to the center and then repeat stretch on the opposite side.

Hamstring Stretch: Stand facing the golf cart and place your heel on the floor of the cart. Keep your raised leg straight and slowly bend forward from your hips. Breathe as you hold the stretch for five-to-seven seconds. Return to start position and repeat stretch on the opposite leg.

Take an online lesson from Karen Palacios-Jansen.