Pre-Golfing Stretches to Prevent Back Injury

Yellow Pants

My dad had yellow pants. They were for golfing but occasionally they made an appearance off the course on social occasions. It was acceptable. It was 1976. These yellow fancies were crisp and “polyestery” and looked sharp, matched with a similarly pastel-colored golf shirt. I am confident that also hanging in his closet was an identical pair in “lime daiquiri” but I am particularly fond of the “yellow pants” memory. I can see him getting ready on a Sunday morning ready to go do that mysterious thing with sticks and buddies and a fair amount of beer. Out the door those yellow pants would walk.

I can’t think of the word golf without my dad’s face coming to mind. So when I considered penning a small article on preventative measures to implement on the golf course, I was pleasantly inundated with a brain-slideshow of my golfing dad. I think about him and I having a conversation about the benefits of warming up, stretching and counter swinging.I think he would have listened respectfully and then not changed a thing. However, I trust that all of you golfers will read attentively and heed my suggestions. Let’s call it a tribute article to Don and his yellow pants. Do it for Don.

Down and dirty tips for Golf Glory

 G: Great warm up/warm down: Warming up and cooling down properly is essential for golf performance. Although golfing may seem like just a long walk, a golf game actually challenges most of the musculature in your body. Take a few short minutes before you tee off and at the end of the game to run through the following stretches. (Hold all stretches for 20-30 seconds)

  • Hamstring stretch: Prop one foot up on a step or bench. Gently lean forward bending at the hip, keeping your head up and looking forward. You should feel this stretch on the back of the thigh. Repeat on other side.
  • Quadriceps stretch: Standing, bend one knee and grasp the ankle and gently pull toward the buttocks. You should feel the stretch down the front of the leg. You should feel this stretch down the front of the thigh. Repeat on opposite side.
  • Front hang: Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and let your body, (bending at the waist) drop forward toward the ground. Think of a rag doll. You should feel this stretch in the backs of your legs and your spine.
  • Arm circles: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and circle arms (one at a time) backwards for ten repetitions and then forward for ten repetitions. This warm-up is great for lubricating the shoulder joint.
  • Buttock Stretch: Sit on a bench and cross your ankle over your opposite knee. Slowly lean forward until you feel the stretch in your butt on the bent knee side. You can increase this stretch by gently pressing down on the bent knee side.

Opposite Swings: For every golf swing you make take a step back and swing the opposite direction. The “one-sidedness” of the sport is a big reason why low back pain is so common. Opposite swings will stretch and strengthen the opposite side musculature and create the balance and symmetry the spine so desperately craves.

L: Loosen Up! On the 1st, 9th and 18th holes stop and proceed thought the following stretches. Place your golf club across the back of your shoulders and position your hands on the ends of the club. This is your starting position for all of the following stretches.

  • Rotation: Slowly start to swing from your trunk moving side to side. This stretch is a purely rotational stretch as if you are trying to look over your shoulders behind you on each side. Start with a very short range of motion and slowly build to a bigger and bigger range of motion. Swing slowly and in control. Perform this stretch for a full minute
  • Kayak: (continue to have your golf club in place over the back of you shoulders) Start in neutral and slowly start “paddling” motion forward as if you are paddling a kayak. Slowly make the circles with your arms larger and larger as you challenge your range of motion limits. Continue by reversing this stretch and “paddling backwards” The goal again is to start with small circles and slowly make them bigger. Practice this stretch for 30 seconds per direction.
  • Side to Side: With you golf club behind your shoulders you are going to start a very short range of motion side to side. Slowly build the range of motion to be as big as you can safely make it. Do not bend forward or back to accomplish this movement. This is purely a side to side motion. Do this side to side motion for a full minute.

Footwear: Properly supported feet are a key in preventing back pain and improving balance during swing and follow-through. Consider some custom orthotics to balance foot mechanics. Properly supported feet have positive repercussions for knee friction, pelvic balance and low back symmetry and alignment. Your chiropractor can assist you in determining weather custom or generic orthotics are more appropriate for your particular feet.

Final tips for Golf performance:

  1. An excellent resource for golfers is: The Egoscue Method of Health through motion ~ Pete Egoscue
  2. Hydrate during golfing! Dehydrated muscles are less responsive to load and therefore can strain more easily.
  3. Consider a core strengthening program with a trainer or a pilates class with a qualified instructor.
  4. Get Adjusted! Having your spine checked and adjusted will improve range of motion and neural integration of key golfing muscles.

My dad was a good golfer; with a little work on his core and flexibility I think he could have been great. In his era the yellow pants were his edge. Knowing what I know now I challenge you to implement the above recommendations in lieu of breathtaking golf-wear.

Should you have any questions or need clarification on any of the stretches do not hesitate to ask on your next appointment. Good luck with your game.

(Don passed away on March 17th 1997 from brain cancer. He was survived by his wonderful wife and three daughters: sadly, none of them golfers.)

Heather Denniston DC



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