During the backswing portion of your golf swing, your back goes through a lot. The golf swing causes a myriad of muscles to work in a somewhat stressful way. With proper muscle balance and flexibility, no golfer’s back should hurt after playing golf or hitting golf balls. That being said, it’s important to note that I’m talking mainly about the muscles of the back. Of course, disks and vertebrae can deteriorate over time with age, but the muscles of the body support the skeletal system so when they are properly strengthened and flexible, don’t you think you stand a better chance of having a back that remains in tact as you age? Don’t get to retirement and finally have chances to play a lot of golf only to find that your body can’t handle the stress of a simple golf swing!
So how do you keep the muscles in your back strong and flexible you can play as you age? Strength is one thing, but flexibility is something entirely different. Back on Sunday I wrote about Your Daily Golf Fitness Back Routine. If you haven’t read it yet, go back and give it a quick read and use those exercises. I want to add a couple new ones today to focus mainly on the flexibility of the back. When you stretch your back, it helps you gain the ability for all the strengthening exercises to get their full effect. What I mean is that for a muscle to really be worked, it has to go through a full range of motion. When I train people I talk about how they need to “lengthen then strengthen” their muscles. When a muscle is lengthened and stretched, it more fully able to reach the maximum potential of strength.
Try these back flexibility exercises for golf to lengthen the muscles, protect the vertebrae, and get the most out of your golf swing:
Half-Kneeling Long Turns: Get into a half-kneeling position with the down knee on a comfortable cushion. Grab each end of a golf club, hold it overhead and keep the posture as tall as possible. Without moving the lower body, rotate the torso as far as possible to the right. Hold for 2 seconds, then repeat to the left. Switch down legs and repeat to each side. Perform 6 reps on each leg, each direction.
Reverse Toe Touch: Stand with feet about 6 inches apart. Go into a squat position and grab both feet. Lift the butt trying to extend the knees. Repeat back and forth 10 times.
Open Books Rib Cage: Lie down sideways and bend both knees. Take the downside hand and place it on of the top knee - use the hand to keep the knee from rotating. Now take the top hand and reach under the downside ribcage and grab the ribs. Slowly rotate the torso toward the sky using the top to help and the bottom hand to help resist lower body rotation. Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat in both directions.
Lumbar Rotation Stretch: Lie flat on your back with arms extended out to the side. Draw the right knee up toward your chest and rotate to the left, trying to keep your right shoulder on the ground. Use your left hand on top of your right knee to gently pull and assist the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat. You can vary the height of your knee to reach different muscles of the back. For instance, if you bring your knee as high as possible, you will stretch muscles in the mid-thoracic. If you leave your knee lower (like by your hips), you will stretch more of the lower back.