The most common stretches for golfers are not effective in preventing back and knee pain and here’s why.
Golf is a very popular sport in America with more than 28 million people playing each year, according to Statista. Back pain is the most common injury followed by knee pain, shoulder pain, and even rotator cuff tears. Too often golfers turn to ineffective measures like wearing braces, strength training, and what I call fake stretches on the course.
First, the Back Pain
When playing golf, the average golfer spends more than 3 hours in a bent over the golf ball. Of course, for most people, when they have back pain, they quickly believe there is an injury to the back. Even practitioners believe it too.
The most common recommendation is to wear a back brace for support. There are many golfers out there that have stopped playing golf thinking they had to quit due to a bad back. For most back sufferers, they do not have a bad back. They have tight quads or inner thighs.
Think about your golf swing. Knees are slightly bent, you bend at the waist with your head more over the ball, and you are rotating your hips through the swing. When the knees are slightly bent, all your weight is supported by your quads, upper thighs. These overworks the quads making them very tight and the tighter they become, the more the pelvis is tilted forward causing compression in the low back each time you try to stand up, get out of bed, or stand for long periods of time.
Now, the Knee Pain
The second are common area is the knees. If you are a right-handed golfer, the left knee gets a lot of torque on each swing and vice versa for a left-handed golfer. Again, most practitioners suggest you wear a knee brace. The problem is not a knee injury but tight calves.
Remember in the above paragraph I spoke about rotating your hips in the swing, that rotation begins at the ankle. When your calves are tight, it places a tremendous amount of pressure on the hips as the small hip muscles are trying to move the larger calf muscles. The hips will always lose causing back pain and knee pain. Left tight this could lead to more serious injuries like torn ligaments and disc issues.
Was that a Stretch? Think Again.
On every golf course we see golfers place a club behind their head and twist from one side to the other to loosen their hips. That would be great if only your hips created the rotation, however since the calves create the rotation, this is a waste of time.
For ambitious golfers, they may attempt to stretch their calves by dropping their heel off the curb or step, maybe lean against a wall. Again, this is a waste of time since you have 4 calf muscles and you are not stretching the inside and outside calf area which are the most important for rotation.
Oh, and bending down touching your toes will not help your back either. I have seen many clients that could place the palms of their hands on the ground and they still had back pain.
The Best Stretches for Golfers to Prevent Pain
A Stretch for All the Calf Muscles
Below is the best golf stretch I have ever seen for addressing all 4 calf muscles. Use your hands and soften the bottom and tops of your feet so you can properly shift your weight from side to side. If you cannot reach your feet yet, place a golf ball on the floor while sitting in a chair. Place one foot on top of the ball. Do not roll it around but methodically press gently into one spot feeling for discomfort, when you find a painful spot, breathe out and allow the muscle to relax. do this until the pain stops all over your foot. Rub gently on the top of your feet, between the bones of the toes beginning at the toes going up to the ankle.
Stretching the Chest
The chest is another area that affects your game, especially the outside chest muscle. I see golfers working out in the gym with the idea that the stronger they are, the farther they can hit the ball. The fact is, if the outside chest is tight from bench pressing or butterflies, your swing may be limited.
Watch The Videos
This is an example of the stretches I offer in my Tuesday Afternoon Tips. If you would like to watch the three videos demonstrating these golf stretches and receive future stretch videos, sign up HERE and you will have access to three videos immediately.
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About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.