This week begins a new series entitled, Questions Answered. I respond to frequently asked inquiries regarding golf performance. The yoga tips specifically address these issues and I am confident these issues will resonate with most golfers. Please e-mail your questions to Katherine@KRTotalFitness.com. If your question is answered in the coming weeks you will receive a complimentary assessment and fitness program.
I purchased your Yoga for Golfers DVD and am a happy customer! I have suffered from back pain for years, and golf was often a strain. However, this year I have been consistent in working on core strength - and I have been playing pain-free golf (and better golf!) for some time now. I attribute much of that to the yoga.
I do have a question for you. Much of my back pain is attributable to EXTREMELY tight hamstrings. I can't sit straight up on the floor with my legs straight in front of me because of the tightness. The tightness is most noticeable right behind my knees. I stretch daily, but seem to make LITTLE progress, and one of my written goals is to be able to touch my nose to my knees within 3 years.
My question is this: What is the best way to attack this problem? Is it best to hold the stretches for long periods? Short periods? Should I do different exercises? Currently, I am lying on the floor and holding a rope around my foot and holding the stretch for 8 or so deep breaths.
Any suggestions would be hugely appreciated. And again, thanks for the yoga DVD.
Sincerely, Blair B. Jackson, MS
Blairs question is very common. Because of a sedentary lifestyle, many golfers struggle with tight hamstrings. This restricted flexibility issue is a direct correlation to a high incidence of back pain and most golfers will experience relief in the back once they target the hamstrings. Although many other issues do contribute to back pain (including restricted mobility in the hips, poor core conditioning and compromised posture) the hamstrings play a major part in mobilizing the lumbar spine.
In the Yoga for Golfers program I focus on the subtleties of the pose. The analogy I use is that when you slightly revise the golf swing, for example by changing your grip, this subtle change generates immense results. While practicing yoga this week, please focus on engaging the quadriceps and you will create a much deeper stretch in the hamstrings. It is the subtleties of golf that create the most dramatic results.
Regarding the length of time to hold the stretch the answer is three fold and all forms of flexibility conditioning are applicable:
- Dynamic stretching in which you hold the stretch for three seconds.
- Active elongation or functional stretching in which you move the maximum range of motion and then flex or engage the muscle. In this phase you will flex the quads, flex the feet and press the heels away from the center of the body. Hold for three seconds, relax and repeat.
- Static stretching in which you stay in the pose for twenty seconds to one minute.
This is the pose that Blair refers to in his e-mail.
Place the strap around the right foot and bend the left knee. Extend the right leg as straight as possible. Flex the foot towards you and press the heel away from you. Engage the quadriceps on the right leg during the exhalation. Inhale and allow the knee to slightly bend. Exhale and stretch the leg to the fullest extent. Repeat five to ten times and switch sides.
Sitting with your back against the wall, extend the legs straight out. Flex the quads and feet as you lift the heels off the floor. Spread the toes as wide as possible to increase the flexibility in the feet. Pull the navel into the spine and focus on lifting the ribcage up and off the waist. Visualize your spine elongating as you inhale and exhale deeply. Hold for five breaths, relax and repeat three to five times.
Fold forward for five to ten deep breaths.
Place the feet four feet apart and rotate the feet and legs inwards. Hinge at the hips and eventually bring the body to a 90 degree angle to the legs. Do not worry if you are not at 90 degrees when you first attempt this pose. Once at the maximum stretch, squeeze the quads and adductors or inner thighs towards each other. Hold for three seconds, return to the starting position and repeat five times.
If you are facing a physical or mental challenge on the course the chances are high that someone else is looking down the shaft at the same issue. Share your thoughts by sending them to Katherine@KRTotalFitness.com.