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Maximizing the Effectiveness of Stretching for Improving Your Golf Swing

consistent golf swing

Good mobility is essential for golf performance and lowering your risk of golf-associated injury. Stretching, however, is often viewed as a dirty, four-letter word. Most of us do not enjoy stretching – it can be incredibly uncomfortable, and even if you know a handful of good stretches, there can be a lot of confusion about how long to hold your stretch, how often to stretch, and whether your stretching should be static or dynamic. Today, we’ll look at some research to provide some clarity and help you get the biggest bang for your buck out of your stretching routine.

From a golf performance training perspective, a good stretching program is a must, since factors such as ability to maintain posture, appropriate swing plane, X-factor stretch, clubhead speed, power, ball speed, and injury risk are all linked to a foundation of good mobility. Historically, there has been much debate over how long to hold a stretch. A seemingly endless variety of stretching protocols can be found, from 5-second stretches to 30-minute long low-load prolonged stretches. Many, if not all, of these variations can have benefits, and some are developed with client-specific or rehabilitation-specific needs in mind. So how long should a stretch be held for maximum improvement in your golf swing?

One study of 60 subjects examined the effects of static stretch duration on the flexibility of the hamstring muscles, with stretching durations of 15 sec, 30 sec, 60 sec, 90 sec, and 120 sec. The results showed significant improvement in hamstring tightness for all stretching durations. The authors concluded that statically stretching tight hamstrings for any duration between 15 and 120 sec on alternate days for 6 weeks will significantly increase flexibility.

Another study of 72 subjects assessed the effects of passive stretch duration on hip abduction range of motion (ROM). Stretches were held for 15 sec, 45 sec, and 120 sec among the different groups, and all stretching groups were found to have improved their hip abduction ROM relatively equal to each other. The authors concluded passive stretching for 15 sec may be just as effective as stretching for 120 sec. This means that it may be reasonable to perform brief, 15 sec stretches prior to athletic activities where immediate increases in ROM are desired, such as during a warm-up prior to hitting the driving range or playing a round.

Yet another study of 24 subjects looked at the effect of stretch duration on active and passive ROM in the lower extremities, with fairly brief stretching durations of 5 sec and 15 sec. Both stretching groups significantly improved both active and passive ROM, but the 15 sec stretching group showed much greater improvements in active ROM than the 5 sec group. Since we are primarily concerned with active ROM during the golf swing, this holds great meaning for improving golf performance. If you aren’t holding your stretches long enough (15 sec), you are robbing yourself of the immediate benefits of stretching as it relates to improving your swing.

Tips for a Healthy Golf Swing

Now, what about static vs dynamic stretching? The previously discussed studies definitely showed great benefits from static stretching. But an argument could be made that it’s easier to perform some dynamic stretches immediately prior to teeing off. So let’s look at one more study comparing static and dynamic stretching as it relates to golf swing performance with a 5-iron. In this study, performance was measured at time intervals of 0 min, 5 min, 15 min, and 30 min after stretching. Dynamic stretching produced significantly greater clubhead speed, greater ball speed, straighter swing paths, and centralized impact points on the club face, with no statistically significant differences in performance at the various time increments after stretching. These results suggest that dynamic stretching should be used as part of a general golf warm-up for increased golf performance.

So, what does all this mean for your stretching/mobility program? Well, static and dynamic stretching will both improve your mobility and lead directly to improvements in your golf swing. Dynamic stretching is probably a better fit for your warm-up immediately before practice or play. Stretching for less than 15 seconds just isn’t as effective as you want or need it to be, but unless you’re rehabbing from an injury or surgery, holding your stretches for longer than 15 seconds won’t necessarily provide you with additional benefits. So, find some stretches you like, hold them for about 15 seconds, perform each of them 3-5 times, make them more dynamic if it’s part of your golf warm-up, and start reaping the benefits of a good mobility program without having to spend lengthy amounts of time in an uncomfortable stretch. Your body, and your golf scores, will thank you for it.

Here at Driven, we strongly support the use of research-based golf performance training. If you have any questions about the content of this post, are not sure what stretches would work best for you, or want to see how much a golf performance program will improve your game, please call, email, or send us a message on Facebook and speak with one of our golf performance specialists about transforming your game.

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Dr. Joe Terrill

Driven Golf Performance & Sports Physical Therapy

We Help Athletes, Sports Enthusiasts, And Other Active People Stay Fit And Healthy So They Can Keep Doing The Things They Love - And Do It Better.