How is your warm-up? A few hot breaths on the hands in winter? A quick lash of a long iron in summer?
If you take a few holes to get going, some simple exercises could help you say goodbye to early card-wreckers AND help prevent injury.
Physio Andy Curtis has devised a handy five-point plan to get you in the swing from the opening shot.
"This specific warm-up should address key areas of mobility that often take weeks of coaching to overcome, with many technique faults often falling to mobility issues," says Curtis, co-founder of YourPhysioPlan.com.
1. Increasing core body temperature
First up, you need to increase core body temperature, circulation and heart rate. Try a light jog around the car park, bounce up and down, do gentle squats or get an exercise bike – whatever is available - for 5-10 minutes.
This is like starting your car’s engine five minutes early on a cold morning – give your body chance to prepare for the stress it is about to undergo.
Once this raised physiological state has been achieved, specific technique-related exercises will have a far greater impact and be more easily achieved.
2. Hip mobility
Hip flexion is next. A mobile hip and pelvic complex can ensure effective energy transfer from your body into the club, delivering a more consistent swing and greater power.
A pivot lunge is the best way of mobilizing both hips while fully loading the lower limbs. Without sufficient hip mobility, the emphasis of the swing turn will fall to the lower spine (between the ribs and the pelvis), but this area is poorly suited to rotation, so increased torsion can result in both joint and disc-based injuries.
Pivot lunge step-by-step
- Standing square, lunge forwards onto your left leg, so your front knee is at 90 degrees and back knee is a few inches above the floor.
- Your chest should be upright and shoulders square.
- Keeping on your toes, twist your hips to the right while pushing your right knee outwards.
- Turn 180 degrees so you are now in a right-sided lunge.
- You can pivot back and forth using this motion to go from left to right.
- Repeat 10 times each way.
3. Upper spine flexibility
Another key area of rotation during the swing is the upper spine, the bit between the rib cage. The joints here allow effective rotation about a fixed axis, but a reduction in range will affect weight distribution and balance through the backswing, resulting in poor club position.
An exercise to target this is crossed arm helicopters. The exercise allows you to keep your normal stance through legs and shoulders, yet isolates the upper part of the spine.
Crossed arm helicopters step-by-step
- In your normal stance position, with arms across your chest.
- Keeping knees and hips forwards, twist your upper body through your normal swing alignment.
- Try to drive your elbows as far round as possible to encourage increased rotation.
- Repeat 10 times each way
4. Lower spine flexibility
Pelvic tilts are a good exercise to do regularly. Because many of us sit for prolonged periods, the hip flexor muscles can become chronically short and overactive. This curtails an effective backswing and hampers your ability to get back down and through the ball.
Pelvic tilt step-by-step
- In your normal stance position, with hands out in front resting on a club.
- Tuck your tail bone in underneath you while pulling your tummy button up towards your chest.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
- Then arch your back and push your tummy button away from you towards the floor.
- Hold for 5 seconds and then repeat.
5. Shoulder mobility
Shoulder mobility is also a key factor in allowing a full back swing. A simple cross body stretch of your arm at shoulder height will help to increase mobility of these tissues and also help upper spine mobility. Again, this is best done in your normal stance.
Cross body shoulder stretch - step-by-step
- Stand square with knees relaxed.
- Pull one arm across your chest by your other hand behind the elbow.
- Keep the arm stretched at shoulder height, and try to draw the elbow as far across you as possible.
- Keep your head in a neutral position
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.
YourPhysioPlan.com offers a range of annual subscription packages from as little as 60p a day to make physiotherapy, massage and physical conditioning more accessible, affordable and effective. Visit www.yourphysioplan.com