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Do I Really Need To Stretch?

Do I really need to stretch?

What do you think?

Then why do you go straight to the tee after you slam the trunk?

Do I really need to stretch before my golf round? Of course you do. There are two major areas of your golf body that need to have adequate strength and mobility/stability. First, the mid back or “T-Spine”, as it is commonly referred to, needs to have adequate flexibility/mobility and strength to achieve a full shoulder turn on both the back swing and thru swing. It’s also essential to prevent lower back injury. Secondly, the hips need to be stable enough on the back swing to create “separation”. Separation means that the shoulders need to turn more that the hips at the top of the back swing. Generally speaking, we like to see the shoulders turn 90 degrees away from the target line and the hips no more than 45 degrees.

You should stretch to be able to get your body into these movement parameters and you should stretch before your round simply to loosen up. So, Do I really need to stretch? Yes. If you only have 5 minutes before your tee time go to the first tee and gently swing two clubs held togehter for 5 minutes. You’ll be happy.

Do I really need to stretch?

One of the principles to create greater distance is the ability to turn the shoulders more than the hips on the back swing. This is commonly referred to as the “x-factor. Ideally we want the shoulders to turn 90 degrees to the target line and the hips to turn no more than 45 degrees to the target line.x factor imageWith this said it is important to work on mid and upper back mobility through stretches and strength training. And with limited upper body mobility, it is likely that the hips will need to over-rotate into the back swing just to make the swing feel full. This will decrease the x-factor angle and therefore reduce distance.

Another reason to have mid back mobility is to reduce the chance of low back injury. It sounds odd but here is the explanation. In order to swing efficiently and maximize distance, the body needs to have a pattern of stability and mobility. The efficient  movement of a golf swing starts in the feet and alternates between stability and mobility as you move up the body.  For example, the foot needs to be stable, the ankle mobile, the knee stable, the hip mobile, the low back stable, and the upper back mobile. In this pattern of movement, the lower back should be stable and the T-spine mobile. This is how we maximize the efficiency of the body movement patterns, and if the body is unable to move in this fashion, power loss or injury is possible.

Therefore, if a golfer is lacking in mid back mobility, the low back will be asked to be more mobile just to complete the back swing. Remember, the low back should be stable in the backswing. This causes certain muscle groups of the low back to frequently engage that are ill equipped to handle the torque and stress, hence a higher probability of fatigue and injury.

There are two stretches that I like to do that target t-spine mobility. The Reach Thrus can be done anywhere without any equipment. The Shoulder Roll on Stability Ball requires a stability ball, of course.

If you feel like your distance is diminishing or you feel low back pain often while golfing, perhaps your mid back or t-spine needs to be more mobile. If you do these stretches on a regular basis, you will increase your range of motion in the upper body and allow for more stable hips, which creates a more efficient turn on the back swing.  This results in a bigger x factor angle allowing you to generate more clubhead speed in the down swing which means more distance. This means more fun for you.