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5 Exercises for the Perfect Golf Warm-Up


While we are currently off the course, practice these exercises to prepare your body to tee off! Once you are back on the course, use these exercises regularly as your warm up. A good warm-up is important before playing golf or any sport as it prepares the body to withstand the loads or demands of that sport. During your warm-up, the focus should be on joint mobilization and muscle activation and less on stretching. Golfers most commonly experience low back pain followed by upper extremity injuries in the elbow and wrist, so be sure to incorporate these five general key areas in your warmup to decrease low back and upper extremity pain and potentially increase power:

  1. Core and gluteal strengthening 
    • Recommended Exercises:
      1. McGill Big 3 (curl-up, side-plank and “bird-dog”) These exercises work on core stability with the abdominal bracing concept while sparing the spine of excessive load. Go through the circuit 3 times with 10 reps per exercise each circuit.
      2. Basic squat with push-hands or hold a golf club across the shoulder blades (similar to bend-the-bar technique) and connect a belt above knees. Start with bend-the-bar technique (with the golf club serving as the bar) to activate the latissimus muscles and belt above knees to activate gluteal muscles. Hip hinge to activate the gluteal muscles and spare the knees. As you go through the squat, pull down on the club for latissimus activation, and spread the floor with the feet and push out with the knees for further gluteal activation. Spend 6 seconds down and 2 seconds up, slow to fast. Stop lowering when the lumbar spine flexes. Complete three rounds with 10 repetitions per round.
  1. Mobilization for lower extremity (hip and ankle)
    • Recommended exercises:
      1. Place hands on golf club and place club across shoulders and plant your feet as if you were going to squat. Rotate your hips to each side, think of pointing your belt buckle to the right and to the left. Slightly roll onto the inside and outside of the feet as your twist. Try completing 3 rounds and 10 repetitions each way.
      2. Repeat the first exercise but this time one leg at a time with the other leg just having the big toe touching the ground, as opposed to the whole foot flat on the ground. Recommend 3 rounds and 10 repetitions each way.
  1. Mobilization for thoracic back
    • Example exercises:
      1. Clasp hands behind your head. With hands behind the head, raise your elbows upward to activate the thoracic back. You can also stand to the side of the golf and lean into the cart. Hold for 5-10 seconds, repeating 5-10 times.
      2. Hinge slightly at the hips like you are addressing a golf ball. Clasp hands behind the head and bring elbows together and then spread them apart. Recommend 3 rounds and 10 repetitions each round.
  1. Mobilization for upper extremity (elbow and wrist)
    • Recommended exercise:
      1. Extend, flex, ulnar and radial deviate (up, down, side-to-side) the wrist both without resistance first. After one round, add resistance by holding a golf club in the hand. Recommend 3 rounds per hand and 10 repetitions (one repetition includes all four directions).
  1. Coordinated full body movement
    • Recommended exercise:
      1. Brace your core and push hands into hips to extend hips back to activate the back muscles. Lift one leg off the ground, reaching back behind you. Slowly rotate the leg internally and externally. Practice 10 repetitions (1 internal and external rotation) for 3 rounds. Repeat on other leg.If unable to maintain balance with the leg reaching in the air, toe-touch the reaching leg to the ground to help maintain balance.

BONUS exercises for the tee-box on each hole:

  • Standing end range extension: Make a letter “L” with your thumb and index finger. Place on the top of each hip (iliac crest) with the thumb directed towards the tailbone. With two legs shoulder width apart, extend/lean directly backwards to end range and then return.  Repeat a few times.
  • Anterior and posterior pelvic tilt: Soften knees and drive belt buckle toward ground for anterior pelvic tilt. Then drive the belt buckle up toward the chin for posterior pelvic tilt. Repeat a few times.

To get ready for the golf season, tune into upcoming webinar on Golf Injury Prevention and Recovery. Register here: https://hssgolf.eventbrite.com

Dr. Andrew Creighton, physiatrist

Dr. Andrew Creighton, physiatrist at HSS, specializes in the care of acute and chronic musculoskeletal, sports and spine conditions. A former collegiate golfer and current competitive amateur golfer, Dr. Creighton’s research interests focus on the complex biomechanics of the golf swing as it relates to injury prevention and recovery.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.