What is the ideal way to physically prepare your body for play? Team Canada Head Physiotherapist and Strength Coach Greg Redman has some tips.
As a physical therapist for some professional players and Golf Canada’s National Amateur team, I am often asked, “What is the best way to warm up before a round or a practice session at the range?” Like a golf swing, every player is unique in the way he or she gets loose and prepares to hit balls. However, every warm-up should include specific components that prepare the body for play. That way, by the time you’re standing over your first ball, your body feels ready to fire.
As demonstrated by Team Canada’s Hugo Bernard, here are the components of a great golf warm-up that will prepare your body physically for consistent performance.
1. Blood Flow
Begin the physical preparation by either slowly jogging on the spot for five minutes or walking briskly for 10 minutes around the range. You should feel a light sweat but not be out of breath at the end. This will provide the required energy to hit balls.
I am not a fan of stretching before golf because we lose our proprioceptive physical awareness, meaning our muscle and joint sensors lose their sensitivity. But I do recommend improving the flexibility of the muscles of the mid-lower back, buttocks, hamstrings and calves using a long iron and massaging out the muscle with the shaft of the club.
Begin with the large joints — the hips, lower back and shoulders — by dynamically moving them in as many directions as you feel they should move in. For example, swing the leg back and forth or side to side. This will promote the full range of motion required in the swing.
4. Neural Activation
To get the fuse box (your brain) and the wiring (nerves) sending the right information to the muscles, we need to turn on all the correct switches (activation). Begin by standing on the lead leg and rotate side to side with optimal control of your balance. When you feel that you are able to rotate as far as you need for your ideal golf swing, slowly increase the speed that you rotate until you have mimicked the speed of your back and downswing. Repeat this on the trail leg.
Finally, stand in golf posture without a club and practice your swing. Focus on maximizing the motion in the hips, thoracic spine and shoulders. Then do it again but instead close your eyes and focus on your weight shift, balance and what your swing looks like from the back, side and above.
The full warm-up only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and will ensure that you are physically ready by the time you arrive at the first tee.