Your high school P.E. coach was right: Before you do any athletic activity -- especially golf -- it's always best to loosen your muscles and joints with warm-up exercises. That's even more critical on cooler days. Getting increased blood flow to your muscles and joints before you prepare to tee off is definitely a bonus.
But here's what's changed since you were in high school. Static stretches, where you hold a position for a predetermined amount of time, actually hinders your ability to make a smooth, controlled golf swing. Instead, concentrate on dynamic stretching, using momentum and repetition to allow your body to gradually warm up and get loose.
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So what are the best dynamic stretching routines for you? That depends on the situation, according to PGA professional Gary Fredenburg of The Orchard Golf and Country Club in Clarkesville, Ga.
If you have enough time to get to the range before your round, you can take a little more time to warm up. But if you're strapped for time, Fredenburg suggests five quick routines that you can do between the clubhouse and the first tee that will help get the blood pumping.
The basic idea is to loosen the muscles in your shoulders, back, torso, knees and legs. That way you can execute right from the start of your round.
1. Arm circles
Raise your arms to shoulder height and start making small circles with your hands, gradually widening the arc with a moderate speed. Then reverse the direction. Repeat the motion.
2. Shoulder stretch
Take a golf club with a long shaft, a wood or a driver, and place your hands at either end. Keeping your upper body still, hold the club parallel to your waist and then lift it up over your head and behind you. Repeat the motion.
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3. Torso turns
Either holding a club parallel to the ground or with your arms crossed in front of your chest, slowly twist your shoulders left as far as you can turn, then repeat to the right. Try to increase the distance with each twist.
4. Knee bends
While holding a club parallel to the ground to assist with balance, stand with feet shoulder with apart and lower your body by bending at the knees, then raise back up. Try to keep your upper body still. Repeat the motion.
5. Standing toe touches
Stand with your arms outstretched at shoulder height and feet spread. Bend at the waist and keeping your elbow locked, try to touch the fingers of your right hand to the toes on your left foot. Return to the original position and repeat with the left hand and right foot. Repeat the motion.
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