There are still many golfers who do not adequately warm up and cool down before and after a round of golf or a practice session[i]. There are studies that show that effective warm up routines can improve your golf swing and club head speed which has a strong correlation to an increase in driving distance. The table below shows the increase in club head speed in a group of golfers who participated in a golf specific warm-up routine 5 times per week over 7 weeks, compared to a group of golfers who did not change their practice routine.[ii]
Table 1: Club head speeds after warm up (A J Fradkin et al, 2004)
What exercises should be done to warm up?
There are many exercises that can be included in your warm up and the exercises below are just an example of some easy range of motion and activation exercises you could try. Remember you want to raise your heart rate, increase flexibility through dynamic stretching and activate some of the important muscles before you start swinging your golf club.
NB: All exercise pictures below obtained from the Titleist Performance Institute website[iii].
Start in a half kneeling position and bring your arms from a high position over one shoulder, down, across your body to the opposite hip. Your trunk should stay stable and your head shouldn’t move. Do this with or without a light theraband.
- Repeat 3 x 15 (right to left for a right handed golfer).
In a kneeling position turn your arms left and right to get range of motion in your shoulders and upper back.
- Repeat 3 x 20 turns.
With the band around your ankles or knees, take a semi-squat position and side step 10 steps in one direction and 10 steps in the opposite direction.
Standing in your golf set up position cross your arms across your chest and quickly twist your hips from side to side while keeping your shoulders still.
- Repeat 3 x 15 seconds.
Alternate opposite arm and leg trying to keep the club still and stable on your back. Try not to tilt your hips as you lift your arm and leg.
Standing in a 5 iron set up posture – tip your pelvis to increase the arch in your lower back and then tip it backwards to reduce the arch in your lower back. Complete this movement in a slow and controlled manner. You can do this exercise either supported (as above) or unsupported.
Standing holding on to your club – swing your leg gently forwards and backwards to improve range of motion of your hip joint and encourage length in your leg muscles.
- 3 x 15 swings left and right.
Then once your heart rate has been raised, you can take a club and do some air swings with an increase in speed and range of motion. Imagine you are hitting a chip shot and gradually build as though you are hitting through the irons to a full drive.
Take home message
Warm ups are essential to prepare your body for your swing and may even help you gain speed on your club and improve your handicap. Progress through a warm up that includes gradual increases in joint movement, heart rate and muscle activation before adding a swing practice that slowly gains speed and power.
[i] A J Fradkin, C F Finch, C A Sherman Warm up practices of golfers: are they adequate? Br J Sports Med 2001;35:2 125-127 doi:10.1136/bjsm.35.2.125
[ii] A J Fradkin, C A Sherman, C F Finch, Improving golf performance with warm up conditioning program, Br J Sports Med 2004;38:762–765. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2003.009399