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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


2 Commentss

  1. Cassie says:

    Thanks for writing such an easy-to-understand atrcile on this topic.

  2. Sandra Merlo says:

    Your information is so easy to understand and so very important to golfers and, really, to all athletes. I forwarded this to all my golfer friends. Every one of them said thank you and that they had learned something useful.

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