The goal for my pre round workout is to get my body loose and to activate the proper muscles for golf. When I was younger (I know…I am still young), my trainers used to tell me never to stretch before the round because I was too flexible and my swing would go all over the place. I am double jointed in a lot of places in my body, so flexibility was never an issue, but stability in my joints were. But as I got older, I remained flexible in certain parts of my body, but also lost a lot of flexibility in other parts. For instance, I constantly struggle with keeping my back loose and maintaining my shoulder turn range of motion. And without properly warming up my back, I end up playing with limited shoulder turn. When that happens, I compensate for the lack of turn with overusing my hips causing my hip pain to flare up. Therefore, there are 3 back stretches that I do every morning for a minute each.
I get asked frequently by people all the time how I get so much rotation in my shoulder turn and how to increase their turn. These stretches if done consistently will increase your mobility, hence increasing your shoulder turn. Here are the 3 stretches:
- Crossover stretch: I start with this one because it loosens up the lower back and I feel a really deep stretch. I start off nice and slow, and the goal of this stretch is to keep your knee and opposite shoulder on the ground, but do not push too hard from the get go. Cross over your leg across your body and push your knee and opposite shoulder to the ground while exhaling. Hold for a minute each side.
- Figure 4 stretch: This stretches out your piriformis, a pear shaped muscle that runs from your sacrum (back of your pelvis) to the outside of your upper femur (thigh bone). It is crucial to keep your piriformis loose because if it is tight, then it pulls down on your back and doesn’t allow your back to be loose. Here’s how to do the stretch: Lie on your back with both legs in the air. Place your right ankle on your thigh above your left knee. I like to place the left foot on a wall creating a 90 deg angle. Using your left leg as an anchor, push your right knee out further from your body increasing the stretch in your piriformis. Hold for a minute on each leg
- Cat cow stretch: This is one of my favorite stretches for my spine because it loosens up the entire spinal cord. After experiencing neck spasms this year, my therapist recommended me doing this stretch to loosen up my spine so I wouldn’t have spasms. To do this stretch, start on your hands and knees. Starting from a neutral spine (your back should be flat with no arch), slowly look up to the ceiling while creating a downward arch in your back. While breathing, slowly down down to the floor while creating an upward arch in your back. Repeat for a minute and don’t forget to sync your breathing with this exercise.
On the days even after doing these stretches, when my back refuses to loosen up I move on to these 3 supplemental stretches. And after doing these, my back almost always tends to behave. Here are the extra stretches that you can do if you are still feeling tight:
- Downward dog to upward dog: I used to do a lot of yoga before my hip injury and Vinyasa was my favorite type of yoga because of all the downward dog poses we did. I feel like downward dog is the best yoga pose in opening up your hip flexors, hamstrings, back, and even shoulders. Even though I can’t do many of the yoga poses now with my limited hip mobility, I still try to do the down to up dog pose every chance I get. To do this stretch, start in a neutral plank position (push up position) and push down on your hands to push your head back. Raise your glutes and feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Try to keep your heels on the ground, but if you can’t then it is ok. Keep pushing down on your hands and try to raise your hips higher into the ground while keeping your upper body low. You should feel an intense stretch in your hamstrings and calves, but stop anytime the stretch becomes painful. After spending 10 seconds here, come down to an updog. At this point, your body should be touching the floor while keeping your hands on the floor next to your shoulders. Push up on your hands and only lift your upper body. Firmly keep your legs together and activate your quads (front of your legs). You should feel a stretch in your lower back while creating an upward arch. Hold for 10 seconds and return back to the downward dog pose. Repeat 3 times.
- Standing Side Stretch: I took this stretch from the Bikram Yoga routine and I love it because it really stretches out your obliques and the side of your back. I always find that one side is tighter than the other and I try to focus more on that side to even it back out. To do this stretch, start in a standing position with your hand straightened out above your head. Really lock your fingers together and keep your arms behind your ears. Move slowly side to side to warm it up and after doing this a couple of times, slowly lower to your right side and hold for 30 seconds. During these 30 seconds, try to lower as much as you can. Make sure you are keeping your legs tight and firm on the ground as you are doing this.
- 90 deg Crossover Stretch: This stretch is similar to the crossover stretch, but this time both knees are going to be bent to 90 degrees and keeping both arms flat on the ground, lower both legs to the right side. After your knee touches the ground, pick up legs and cross them over to the other side. Keep your legs moving and feel the stretch in your back.
This routine should take around 10 minutes and I hope they help loosen up your back like it does mine!!