*This was written for golfers but can be beneficial for anyone participating in a physical activity such as pickle ball, tennis, softball, etc.
For many of us, the only warm up we get before a round of golf is bending over to put on our shoes. Ironically, we can’t understand why it takes us until the back nine to actually feel like we are getting loose. What we don’t realize is that a golf swing uses nearly every large skeletal muscle of the body. Therefore, every muscle should be properly warmed up.
A proper warm up is vital to a successful round of golf. The real reasoning behind a pre-round warm up (yes, this includes practice sessions also) is to simply prepare your body for physical activity. For optimal fitness and results, you should elevate your heart rate to increase the blood flow to your muscles, tendons and ligaments. Then follow it up with dynamic stretching.
Increasing the blood flow can be achieved by doing any of a number of cardiovascular activities; briskly walking, jogging, tread mill, even jumping jacks or running in place. This should be performed for 5-30 minutes and within two hours of your pre-round practice session. Remember this is a warm up, not conditioning. So, if you already do a lot of cardiovascular activity away from the course, you may want to do what you are familiar with. But, if you are huffing and puffing after just a few minutes of running in place, this might be adequate to get your heart rate up.
A few minutes should be spent on activities like big arm circles, windmills, helicopters and leg swings to promote blood flow to the areas essential to a proper golf swing. These activities are called dynamic stretching. This is the pre-round type of stretching and is designed to prevent injury and enhance performance. Dynamic stretches use one muscle group to stretch another. It incorporates smooth, repetitive motions designed to duplicate the motions you use in a golf swing, and to progressively stretch muscles even further. With each action, you should notice an increased range of motion. Don’t force a stretch or bounce; simply let the inertia, or energy applied, create the motion to gently push your body to the fullest extent of your range and do not stop or hold a position. 10-12 repetitions should be adequate, or when there is no noticeable increase in range of motion.
There are numerous dynamic stretches. I suggest a person do several different activities for a complete, overall warm up session. If performed aggressively enough, you can incorporate your cardiovascular warm up into your dynamic stretching routine.
By taking the extra 10-20 minutes to properly warm up, you will notice a significant improvement of your swing, you will be more able to perform at your optimum potential and reduce the risk of injury.