The question is – why do we lose distance as we age? Loss of flexibility is common with aging. Why? With aging comes joint weakness and shortening of tendons and ligaments. This reduces joint range of motion by as much as 25%. Imagine yourself as a rubber band. If you stretch back 1 inch or 6 inches – which one would travel farther when you let go? Of course when you can stretch the rubber band back 6 inches. This example is the same when turning back in your golf swing.
As we age our bodies tend to have increased amounts of calcium deposits and adhesions. Our joints become dehydrated which changes the chemical structure of the tissues. Lastly, loss of suppleness is due to the replacement of muscle fibers with fatty, collagenous fibers. Americans sit more throughout their day causing what is called triple flexion. The hip, knee and ankle joints are all in flexion while we sit so that motion is overstressed. They are in a shortened state for long periods of time. Better flexibility will help with fewer injuries, easier overall movement and less stiffness. Better flexibility will get us back the distance that we lose with age. Flexibility directly affects your club head speed, squareness of hits and your angle of attack. All these are keys to adding distance. If you want to hit the ball farther then the trick is to achieve more flexibility. Increase the ability of muscle tissues and connective tissues to elongate (stretch). The good news is this can be achieved at any age.
A proper flexibility program should start from the ground up. Our body is a chain and this chain works together. Stretching this chain in proper order is a MUST. Another MUST is proper breathing. A nice deep inhale of breath to begin with and a super slow exhale breath as you enter the stretch. Repeat this slow cycle the entire time you are stretching. A total body flexibility workout should be 3-5 days a week. Pre stretching before golf with a good warm up on the range will get your muscles ready for high speed activity that is needed on the course. To ask your body to perform without warming up is asking for trouble with injuries and your performance will be lackluster at best.
I caddied out on the LPGA tour. I want to give you all an example of what an LPGA Tour player does to prepare themselves before playing. Everyone has their own unique warm up that works for them but here is an example: They arrive a few hours before their tee time and begin with a trainer to work through a full body dynamic stretching routine. The player then will get on a bike or treadmill between 10-20 minutes to get a sweat going. There might be some very specific balance or specific muscle work done with a trainer at this point and if not, they are ready to hit the range. Their warm up on the range starts with sand wedge half swings. You will see them always set up alignment tools to a specific target so they get their alignment right. They will work through their bag to the driver. Remember by the time they are hitting full speed drivers they have properly stretched and warmed up their body to prepare for it. I understand that you are not playing on tour but I think it’s important that you know that the pros aren’t just running out to the course and starting to bang away, expecting great results. You don’t get to see the prep work behind the scenes with the pros. My point is that you need to figure out a routine for YOU that gets you ready to perform at your optimal best. If you are like most you run from car to the first tee and wonder why you hit the first ball OB.
A better shoulder turn and faster hip speed will lower your scores. You will have all your peers turning their heads. More importantly you will reduce the possibility of injuries.
Additional resources and recommendations are yoga, pilates, massage therapy, or myofascial release. Any combinations of these will speed your progress.
Working on your flexibility isn’t the sexiest. It doesn’t get much respect as Rodney Dangerfield would say. Take this workout seriously and you will see some great results!
Check out our youtube video at www.youtube.com/user/totallydrivengolf for more information on what you need to do to ensure a proper warm-up so that you get the most out of your game.