Fit for Winter 2006 - Week 9

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Hamstring stretching and flexibility
 
In a recent study the researchers evaluated the biomechanics of a golfer who is famous for consistent long drives off the tee. Due to the small stature of the man the research asks the question, Does size matter? Through biomechanical evaluations, specifically the kinetic link an important component of this golfers swing was discovered. Before he brought the club to the top of his backswing, his right hamstring and glut were activated and generating power in his lower body. The efficiency of his swing was the determining factor in his distance off the tee, not his size. Numerous physical variables contribute to sound biomechanics and this week we will target gaining more flexibility in the hamstrings.
 
Golf specific benefits of hamstring flexibility:
  • Supports knee flexion for better balance

  • Supports greater hip rotation

  • Supports lumbar back health
Tips for stretching the hamstrings:
  • When working the hamstrings it is important to activate the quadriceps.

  • Pay attention to the position of the hips.

  • Draw the hip of the active leg back and the opposing hip slightly forward.

  • Do not internally or externally rotate the leg.

  • Flex the foot back towards you and spread the toes wide. This is easier with your shoes removed.

  • Utilizing your breath with long, slow inhalations and deeper exhalations assist in muscle relaxation.

  • Never stretch to the point of pain. Slight discomfort is acceptable, pain is not acceptable.
Today we incorporate dynamic and active elongation flexibility conditioning in our yoga postures. This series of hamstring stretches is executed using dynamic flexibility conditioning. Inhale as you draw the navel towards your spine, move into the stretch, hold for three seconds and comeback to the original position. Repeat each repetition five to ten times. When incorporating active elongation, move to the full range of motion of the stretch, inhale deeply and on the exhalation activate the opposing muscles. Hold for three seconds and relax.
 
Dynamic hamstring stretch at the wall:

Katherine Roberts Katherine Roberts

Place the ball of the right foot against the wall (this provides a stretch in the foot) and step the left foot back approximately four feet. Note: Consider your spine the mid line of your body. The right foot is placed to the right of the mid-line, the left foot to the left of the mid-line.
 
Place the hands shoulder width apart on the wall. Draw the right hip back and left hip forward. Inhale deeply; draw the navel towards the spine. On the exhalation, hinge at the hip, maintaining a straight spine and fold forward. Repeat ten times moving slowly and switch sides.
 
Dynamic and Active hamstring stretch with yoga blocks:

Katherine Roberts

Prepare by extending the right leg forward, flexing the foot drawing the right hip back. On the inhalation slightly bend the right knee, fully extend the right leg on the exhalation and flex the quad. If you are more comfortable use the yoga blocks for this dynamic exercise. Repeat five to ten times.
 
Katherine Roberts Katherine Roberts

Place the hands on the yoga blocks and on the exhalation fold forward bringing the chest towards the knee. Once you are at your maximum range of motion, activate all the muscles in the right leg and hold for three seconds. Relax for three deep breaths and repeat five to ten times. Switch sides.
 
Downward facing dog pose:

Katherine Roberts Katherine Roberts

Begin on all fours, hands placed slightly in front to the shoulders. Roll the shoulders away from the ears and on the exhalation lift the hips into the full pose. Relax the neck and allow the eyes to gaze towards the navel. Extend the legs as much as possible and press the heels towards the floor. Hold for five breaths and repeat three times.
 
Standing forward fold:

Katherine Roberts

Maintain flexion in the knees while you fold forward. Place the hands on the opposite elbows, relax the neck and allow the body to hang. Breathe deeply for five breaths and slowly return to standing.
 
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    Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has over 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at Katherine@KRTotalFitness.com or visit www.KRTotalFitness.com.