Can Golf Fitness Be Fun?

Golf fitness is a big deal these days, and it's time you start taking it seriously for your game. Quick flexibility routines like the one I'm about to share can be done every day, and they'll make your Saturday golf rounds much more fun. 

"How can golf fitness be fun?" you might ask. Golf fitness can be fun, because you know you're getting stronger and more flexible for golf (you know… the game you love?). This in turn makes your rounds more fun. Some weekend warriors believe that stretching a little before a round is all they need to do to stay flexible. Nice try, guys. It's not that easy. I'm not saying you have to turn into Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson to get all the benefits of golf fitness. I'm talking about 30-minute workouts and golf fitness flexibility routines that can do more for your golf game than simply stretching a few minutes before a round. What you do during the week will do more for your flexibility than anything you can do pre-round.

And if you play multiple times a week, a great golf fitness flexibility routine like this one can keep your golf muscles lengthened to not only help you get warmed up quicker and hit the ball better, but also prevent injury.

So let's start with a little test. One of the movement screens I learned from the Titleist Performance Institute was a simple test to see if you can touch your toes. So hop up and stand tall. Put your feet together and keep your knees straight. Slowly bend at the waist and try to touch your toes.

How'd you do?

Belly get in the way? Tight hamstrings? Back pain? All the above?

Hopefully, none of the above plagued you and you can touch your toes. If not, we've got some work to do. I already know what you're thinking: what does touching my toes have to do with the golf swing? It's called flexibility. The ability to touch your toes isn't just linked to your hamstrings. In the human body we have this stuff called fascia that links separate muscle groups together and actually makes them work as one. So on the posterior, or back, side of our bodies, we have this fascia that makes our upper, middle, and lower back all work together with our glutes, hamstrings, calves, and feet.

When one area is tight, the others are affected. This is when injury happens. One area is taking over and compensating for the rest. So yeah, being able to touch your toes has a lot to do with the golf swing. All these posterior muscles need to be strong and flexible to make a good golf swing.

The inability to touch your toes is a sign of a lack of flexibility. This is directly related to your ability to get into the proper golf posture and maintain that posture throughout the entire golf swing.

Try these golf fitness exercises and see if you can get closer to touching your toes:

Quadruped Pelvic Tilts (Cats & Dogs): Start on all fours with the thighs and arms perpendicular to the floor. Without bending the elbows, lower the spine (swayback) creating the dog position and then lift (arch) the spine creating the cat position. Repeat this back and forth and then find the middle or neutral position. Hold this neutral position with an abdominal brace for two breaths. Repeat 10 times each way for a total of 20.

Half-Kneeling Calf Stretch: This exercise helps develop better flexibility (dorsiflexion) in the ankle and calf. Get into a half-kneeling position with the left knee down and the right foot forward. Holding onto the head of a golf club, place the handle just inside the right big toe and hold the club vertically. Keeping the spine stable and heel on the ground, lunge forward trying to get the knee out as far as possible past the toe and outside the club. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Switch legs, repeat.

Toe Touch (Heels Up): Start by elevating the heels on a foam roller, small phone book, or something similar. Place a rolled towel between the knees. Raise the arms straight overhead and slowly bend at the hips and try to touch the fingers to the ground. Squeeze the knees together during the movement to assist in the stretch. Repeat slowly 10 times. 

Toe Touch (Toes Up): Start by elevating the toes on a foam roller, small phone book, or something similar. Place a rolled towel between the knees. Raise the arms straight overhead and slowly bend at the hips and try to touch the fingers to the ground. Squeeze the knees together during the movement to assist in the stretch. Repeat slowly 10 times. 

Reverse Toe Touch: Stand with feet about 6 inches apart. Go into a squat position and grab both feet. Lift the butt slowly, trying to extend the knees. Repeat back and forth 10 times.

Hip Hinge Drill: Place a golf club behind the back with the clubhead on, or near, your head and the handle against the lower spine. Without modifying the spinal posture or allowing space between your back and the club, flex forward from the hips as if performing a dead lift. It is OK to flex the knees slightly, but not the spine. Repeat 10 times. 

Hopefully these golf fitness exercises will help you gain some much-needed flexibility. Some golfers even report being able to touch their toes immediately after doing these exercises.

What about you?