AVOIDING THE "BACK HAZARD"
By Dr John White, DC
Ever notice your back tightening up midway through or at the end of your round of golf? For some of you this isn’t much of an issue, but for many it is. Those who suffer from this experience pain, loss of flexibility and more times than not, an inflated handicap. Barring any unforeseen complications, one very easy way to help minimize this mid round, unintended golfing hazard is to warm up properly. I was able to spend several days by the driving range at SeaCliff Golf Club in Huntington Beach, CA observing many various warm up rituals. Several golfers managed to reach for the sky, turn to the right then to the left and immediately began swinging their 907D2 for the trees at the end of the range. However, most went straight for the “swinging for the trees” part.
Although recent advances in club technology do help increase distance and accuracy, it remains that the most important piece of equipment you take to the course is still your body. So I would recommend that golfers of all levels prepare it as such, and while you’re at the wash station prepping your clubs that you consider prepping your body with some dynamic stretching.
So what is dynamic stretching and why is it a pre-round recommendation?
Dynamic stretching is a motion created by your own muscles taking the joint in question to end range. The best example of this, which I can think of, is arm circles. My 5th grade teacher, Miss Gregg, had me do these before gym period so I’m going to assume most of you know what they are. This is in contrast to how people generally regard stretching. Most know stretching to be a “position and hold” kind of activity. Although this “static stretching” should be done on a regular basis to increase flexibility, the latest research indicates that it is actually detrimental to performance when done prior to a powerful movement (and yes, the golf swing qualifies). This is because static stretching relaxes and neurologically deactivates muscles leaving them uncoordinated, unable to generate maximum power and leaving them susceptible to a strain injury. In contrast, dynamic stretching neurologically activates muscles leaving them stronger, more coordinated and resilient to injury. This translates into longer drives and more accurate irons without buying new clubs. Due to the relaxation effect of static stretching, it should be done at the end of a golf game. This will speed recovery for your next round.
Unfortunately, back in 5th grade Miss Gregg didn’t teach me full body dynamic stretching for the golfer, so I’m also going to assume that the majority of you didn’t get them either. If you’re interested in learning some dynamic stretches, check out our “Resources” page and look for “Golf Warm-up”.