Four golf stretches that will help ace your game before you hit your first ball

photo of a man laying on his side stretching his torso

Originally posted on 7/22/2021; updated 8/1/2022

You've heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” That to be healthy, you need to feed your body well.

A similar idea for golfers might be, “You are how you train.”

In golf, the way you move is important. Not just for being able to hit the ball, but in how your body functions when you do.

In particular, golfers undergo some of the quickest changes in body movement of any sport.

Precision is key.

Golfers are in the category of “rotational athletes” – those who need to twist the torso in playing their sport.

Rotational athletes move their bodies through high velocity motions. These motions put increased stress on the body’s major joints, in particular the spine, and through the hips.

This stress puts increased strain on the entire body.

Being aware in how to rotate correctly can help decrease your chances of injury during play.

Hooray! More tee times!

But it can also benefit you off the course so you can move in a pain-free manner in your daily activities.

Anatomy of golf

Our bodies are comprised of a system of joints. There are two types – stable and mobile. Each plays a role in body movement; each has levels of stability and mobility. In the golf swing, certain joints should have a core function, either stability or mobility, but not both.

In a high-velocity movement, like a golf swing, you need both types of joints to be tip-top in performance. If either is subpar, the other must compensate. And that’s when injuries can happen.

For golfers, lower back injuries are a biggie.

In this case, the stable joint is the lower back (lumbar spine). Without the right preparation to open the core to support the lumbar spine and increase spine/hip movement before cranking that backswing, you risk playing badly at best and hurting yourself at worst.

The good news is that you can prevent both by taking the time to stretch.

Stretching is a key component in any sport, but it is often overlooked or disregarded. Stretching key muscle groups can improve movement and your game.

We’ve put together a list of stretches that work from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

Read on. Then take the time for a good overall stretch before your next round of golf to lessen neck strains, shoulder injuries and back spasms.

Neck flexes and rotations

To loosen up, increase range of motion and help keep your eye on the ball during your swing.

  1. Curl your chin to your chest until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your neck.
  2. Slowly rotate your head side-to-side in small motions.

Shoulder swing

To loosen up and get more fluid in your backswing and follow through.

  1. Put your club behind your shoulders, resting your hands at both ends.
  2. Crouch in a golf stance.
  3. Slowly turn your shoulders back and forth 8 – 10 times

Two-part lumbar spine stretch

To help your body more fully rotate and increase mobility of the upper and middle part of the back to improve your swing and prevent injury.

This is a super effective stretch! But we get it if you choose to do it at home before loading the clubs in the car.

  1. Start by laying on your side and stack your hips with knees bent.
  2. Extend one hand toward the ceiling. Use your other hand to hold your knees if you feel like they're coming off the ground.

    photo of a man laying on his side stretching his torso
  3. Slowly lower your arm and turn your neck to look toward it.
  4. Try to bring your shoulder to the floor.
  5. Breathe through the stretch – feel it in the middle of your back. Repeat on the opposite side.

    photo of a man laying on his side stretching his torso

Hip stretch

To help your hips move freely and efficiently in the backswing and follow-through. To increase hip movement so you don’t put too much weight on the back leg at impact and pull off early, hooking the ball.

  1. Stand and, with a straight leg, make several small circles in a clockwise motion.
  2. Do the same with a counter-clockwise motion.
  3. Repeat with other leg.

Golf is an amazing sport, but to play or compete pain-free you need to learn (or relearn!) how to move correctly.

Good movement helps decrease stress on your body, avoid injuries and enjoy the game more.

Just remember to stretch first, then swing.

Who knows? Adding regular stretching before you hit the driving range or the greens may even add a few more yards to your drive, and without that wicked slice.

If you’re having pain when you play or recovering from a golf injury, come talk with one of our physical therapists.

We offer a complimentary consultation to assess your condition and can do an assessment of your readiness to return to play. Click below to find a nearby location or request an appointment.

Take the next step. No prescription needed.