Getting to the top of your golf game requires focus, neurological control, and the ability to move through the full range of motion for each joint. Assisted golf stretches can help you meet your golf goals by increasing the range of motion in the joints that are vital to a successful game.
Golf Stretches for Grip
Proper grip is where all the force from the rest of your body gets transmitted to the club. On the most basic level, the player needs to be able to grip the club with the appropriate pressure. The muscles that perform this function are the finger flexor muscles. These are located on the front side of your forearm- above your palm. More subtly, however, is the need for your wrists to rotate as your body goes through the backswing, transition, and especially the downswing. Proper neurological control and the ability to rotate the wrists are key. The muscles that control this wrist rotation are mainly the supinator and pronator. These muscles are located near your elbow and their action is transmitted through the bones down into the wrist. At iFlex the first thing we check is the ability of this rotational motion to happen. The specific stretches that we apply will both increase the range of this motion and your neurological control of this action.
Golf Stretches for Shoulders
During the backswing, transition and downswing, the shoulders have to reverse their mechanical force to control your arms. On a right-handed golfer, swinging to the left, during the backswing the muscles behind the right shoulder tighten, and the chest muscles on the left shoulder tighten. Then on the downswing, this motion reverses- power coming through the right chest muscles (the pectoralis major and minor), and the posterior shoulder muscles on the left (infraspinatus and posterior deltoid). Having proper neurological control and range through these two motions is vital. Restricted range in this internal/external rotation motion can limit your smooth swing. At iFlex, we check for proper shoulder range of motion. Our specific type of stretching will increase this range, and also your neurological control through our Active Stretching Technique.
Golf Stretches for Torso
The main power of the downswing comes from the rotational contraction of the core muscles. This requires the spine to rotate through its full range. There are many small muscle groups that are surrounding the spine and contribute to this motion. Due to golf’s one-sided nature- swinging only in one direction, muscle tone can become imbalanced side to side. In a right-handed golfer, we usually see a diminished ability to rotate to the right, since the golf swing requires a constant rotation to the left. Imbalances in rotation from side to side can lead to tight muscles, injury and pain. More importantly, and more subtly, however, is that a rotation imbalance can lead to a diminished neurological control and strength through the full range of motion. The iFlex stretch will increase rotation in both directions, and activate muscles that need it- return full strength and control throughout the swing.
Golf Stretches for Hips
Not only does the rotational motion happen in the spine, it also happens in the hips. The thigh bones (femurs) are connected with your pelvis through a ball and socket joint. This type of joint allows your legs to rotate in all directions. Both right and left hip joints rotate together during the downswing to transmit power from the ground, all the way through your body, into the club. Full rotation of each of these joints is important for a full, smooth swing. At iFlex, we evaluate for the correct motion of each of these joint, returning full motion and balance.
Putting It All Together
By combining a balanced range of motion throughout the joints, the golfer can maintain the highest level of neurological control and freedom of movement. By evaluating the wrist motion, shoulder motion, torso, and hips, the Stretch Therapists at iFlex can help you play your best game.
How Do We Lengthen Your Muscles? The iFlex Stretch Studios Magic…
At iFlex Stretch Studios, our specific stretch routines are designed with what we call active stretching. This means that during part of the stretch, you, the client, will be offering a little bit of resistance. This resistance makes the stretch vastly more effective. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of our ability to stretch is based on our nervous system. Nerve cells in your muscle called spindle cells control how far your muscle can stretch. When your muscles reach a certain length, these cells recognize this and will send a signal to tighten the muscle, restricting any more motion. Unfortunately, over time, they can restrict your motion more and more. Our IFlex stretch targets these cells by having the client offer slight resistance during the stretch- resetting when the spindle cells fire. This allows your muscles to immediately stretch further than you could before.
Not only are we physically stretching the muscle tissue, and resetting the spindle cells in your muscles, but stretching also happens in your spinal cord. Studies have shown that after stretching one leg, the other leg automatically becomes looser. This is because there are neurons in the spinal cord that regulate the contraction and inhibition of muscle groups. If one muscle group contracts- say to close your fingers, these neurons make sure the muscles on the other side relax, so that movement can happen. Inhibition is very important because it allows smooth motion. Often, however, the inhibitory reflex can get stuck in the “on” position. This causes a decrease in strength and neurological control. We often see this when one group of muscles is especially tight, the opposing muscle group is inhibited, lacking in strength. At iFlex our Active Stretching technique will loosen tight muscles, and “turn on” muscles that have been inhibited. This means that those muscles become stronger, and you have more control over them. In time, as we lengthen the area of tension, the imbalances in the joint fade away, leading to less pain, and more function.
The ability to stretch is not only related to physical muscle length, but also to your nervous system allowing the stretch. Assisted stretching provides you with a far better and more effective golf stretch!