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Question: Stretching Routine?

Mike W had a question:


"Because of my schedule I do not get the opportunity to stretch much prior to golf. What are your thoughts and do you have a good routine suggestion?"


Answer from Ann:


Hi Mike


Thanks for your question. Not having time to stretch or exercise is a big problem for many people, so what needs to happen is you have to be really efficient and effective when you do stretch. Most importantly, you will need to learn to maintain the new length in your muscles when you stretch. I tell my clients, it is great that you stretch (for 35-45 seconds) but if you spend the next 2 days with that muscle back in shortness, it is much less effective.


Every time you are on the phone, it is an opportunity to stretch. You just need to have a reminder (try a post it on your computer screen). To maintain the new length, you will need to look at your ergonomics. Does your computer set up, car seat, shoes, couch at home keep you slouched and in muscle shortness? When you stand, are you engaged in your core muscles or are you in a position with your knees locked, butt tucked and belly poochy? Learning a new stance is vital.


If you worked with me in person, you would learn to stretch specifically for the muscles that need to be stretched and then how to maintain the new length. Keep these tips in mind whenever you do stretch.



Physiology of Golf: What you don’t know can hurt you!

During video analysis of my client’s golf swing, I identify 12 common golf swing faults. The most common of the golf swing faults are due to a weakness or inefficient use of the core muscles of the trunk. This situation can contribute to a golf swing that is less powerful and inaccurate, but it can also lead to injury, especially to the low back. I always educate my clients about the core trunk muscles, so when I teach them stance, how to weight shift and sequencing of the golf swing, they have a clear understanding of what muscles they overuse and what muscles will maximize their swing.


There are 2 major muscle groups that support trunk movement. The Iliopsoas muscle consists of 2 muscles- the Psoas Major and the Iliacus. The Abdominal muscles consists of 4 muscles- the Rectus Abdoministhis is the muscle that forms the “six pack”, the External Oblique, the Internal Oblique and the Transverse Abdominis. (See Fig.1). Understanding where these muscles are located and their function is very important in preventing injury.


The Psoas Major attaches to each of the Lumbar vertebrae, crosses through the pelvis where is joins with the Iliacus and then exits the pelvis and attaches to the inside of the femur. Because the Psoas Major attaches to the vertebrae, when it is tight and shortened, it pulls on the lumbar vertebrae causing compression of the disc and of the nerves that exit between the vertebrae. It can also cause compression of the hip joint and contribute to hip degeneration and it’s attachment to the groin area of the upper thigh is a common cause of groin pull injuries. The 2 Iliopsoas can also be asymmetrical, pulling and causing back and leg pain more on one side than the other. This is very common in golfers.


The Abdominal Muscles are attached to the pubic bone and ribs in the front of the trunk. If you look at the angles of the Abdominal muscles, you will see how well suited they are for the golf swing. Unfortunately, if the Iliopsoas muscles are tight and shortened (from standing in poor posture with your upper body leaning back or from sitting slumped at a computer all day and in front of the TV at night), they cause the lower abdominal muscles to go into slack and to not be able to work during the golf swing. (See Fig. 2) It is important then, to strengthen the Abdominal muscles and stretch and then strengthen the Iliopsoas muscles. Developing good core posture and modifying the ergonomic set-up of your office, car and home to support the core strength is essential to maintaining your new alignment. When the Abdominal muscles are engaged in tone and length, they maintain the tone and length of the Iliopsoas, creating a powerful muscular balance of all the trunk muscles and contributing to a powerful, accurate golf swing.


The Sierra Golfer • February 2009 | 13  www.sierragolfer.com

Physiology of Golf: Effective Stretching For Golfers

The main complaint of Golfers is that they are tight. A lot of golfers stretch, but most do it in a way that is doesn’t work. There are 2 main problems, they don’t know how to stretch effectively and that they don’t know how to use the “new length” from their stretching program in their everyday activities. I tell my golf clients that it is great that you stretch, but if you stretch for 45 seconds and then use the muscle in shortness for the next 2 days, the stretching won’t be very effective.


When muscle is stretched, the muscle spindle and “stretch refl ex” becomes activated. The muscle spindle lies in the muscle and watches what happens when it is stretched. If you stretch properly, with your body in alignment, breathing easily, with the joint that you are stretching around softened and gliding and you take the stretch to where you just begin to feel the stretch and hold it for 45 seconds or more— the muscle spindle reads this as a safe stretch and will allow the muscle to lengthen.


If you slump over, hold your breath, jam and tighten the joint you are stretching around, stretch too hard and far or bounce while you stretch, the muscle spindle reads this as an unsafe stretch and tells the muscle to shorten to protect itself. So, you are pulling on a muscle and it is actually shortening. This causes micro tears in muscle and can build up as scar tissue.


I use the hamstring stretch as a great example because so many people do it wrong. First, you need to know where the hamstring muscles are located. There are 2 of them in the back of the leg on either side. They both attach to the sit bone (ischial tuberosity) in your butt and come down crossing behind the knee and attach to the bone in the lower leg. So the hamstring crosses 2 joints, the hip and the knee and needs to be stretched across both joints.


Photo 1 shows how “not” to stretch the hamstring. Both the knee and hip are jammed and her upper body is out of alignment. Photo 2 shows how to stretch the upper part of the hamstring over the hip joint and Photo 3 shows her stretching the lower part of the hamstring over the knee joint following the safe stretch criteria mentioned above.


After you stretch one leg, immediately stand and feel the difference between the stretched and unstretched leg. When the hamstring is in length, it lifts your butt up off of the top of your thigh. This is a common cue that golf instructors give for the set up of the golf swing.

You can walk a little bit and again feel the difference. Then stretch the other leg and again feel the muscle in length. You can use these stretch criteria for any stretch.


Using your hamstring in length in your everyday activities is essential to maintaining the new length. It is important when you stand to not lock your knees or tuck your butt. Also do not sit with your legs tucked under the chair. All of these positions put your hamstrings right back into shortness.

I tell my golf clients, if you sit all day at your computer, slumped, with your legs tucked under your chair and then try to go out and hit a golf ball, you are going to have problems with your golf game. Try these stretching tips and you will fi nd that your new fl exibility will help prevent injuries and greatly improve your golf swing.


The Sierra Golfer • April 2009 | 6     www.sierragolfer.com


The Physiology of Golf: TPI Fitness Programs

For golfers, it is essential to have a strong and flexible body to enjoy a great game. In the younger golfer, it is important to develop good biomechanics that they will carry with them through the rest of their golfing life. In older golfers, it is also important to have skills that will help them prevent injuries and stay in the game.


The Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) has developed a Golf Fitness Program that is used to assess their touring professionals. TPI uses the results of video analysis and physical screening to design an exercise program specific for his or her needs.


This program is now available to you.


As a Certified Titleist Golf Fitness Instructor, I do an analysis of your golf swing from 2 angles— Face on and Down the Line—to identify 12 Common Golf Swing Faults: C-Posture, S-Posture, Early Extension, Loss of Posture, Flat Shoulder Plane, Sway, Slide, Casting or Early Release, Reverse Spine Angle, Chicken Winging, and Over the Top.


I then perform a Physical Screening to identify the physical deficits that directly contribute to specific golf swing faults. I take the results of the video analysis and the physical screening and plug them into the Titleist Performance Institutes website to develop a golf specific exercise program for my clients. These exercises are designed to correct the deficits in strength, flexibility and balance. When these physical deficits are corrected, they will correct the golf swing faults. These exercise programs are sent directly to your e-mail address, with videos of each exercise, on the days selected by you, to do the exercises at home or in the gym.


In addition to this program, I use my expertise as a physical therapist to assess the way you walk, sit and work. I teach you how to engage your core muscles in your everyday activities so that you can use your new alignment as you do your exercises. This new skill, used constantly in your activities, will carry over into a great golf swing. You can contact me to schedule a Golf Fitness Assessment. If you are unable to come into my office, there is an Off Site Assessment option. On the TPI website, you follow a step by step format to do a self assessment. The results then produce a Golf Specific exercise program for you. For an additional fee, you can send me a video of your golf swing for assessment.


You will find that as your fitness improves, so will your game


Ann Grassel, PT is a Certified Titleist Golf Fitness Instructor and  has 30 years experience as a Physical Therapist specializing in Sportsmedicine, Movement Analysis, and Re-education and Ergonomics. She works with athletes of all skill levels and was privileged to have been a Therapist/ Trainer at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Ann earned a degree in Physiology from the University of Illinois and in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University Medical School.


The Sierra Golfer • June/July  2009 | 12  www.sierragolfer.com