Golf Fitness - Stretching the Core
As you learn more about the need to strengthen the core area for the one plane swing, something that absolutely cannot be overlooked is keeping this core area flexible.
We're strengthening a lot of different core muscles. They're very powerful muscles and it's critical that they stay flexible and supple. Being able to make a big turn without straining or pulling anything offline or out of plane is hugely important in the golf swing.
You need flexibility in these muscles, so while you're working to build strength and power, don't forget to stretch your muscles as well.
Core Stretching Exercise
This is one of the best exercises we've found for stretching this whole area, from the hip flexors up through the core.
Simply take a driver and place it behind your shoulders. Make sure your feet and hips are facing straight forward and everything is aligned straight ahead. Keep your knees slightly flexed to stay relaxed.
Now, keeping your hips square, begin to rotate your shoulders until you start to feel a little bit of pull or tension in your back and hip area. That's your signal to stop. You body doesn't want to turn any farther and if you keep forcing it you'll just pull everything out of alignment.
Just rotate around your spine, keeping your hips in place. Once you find that spot where things start to tense up a little, stop turning and just relax. Now tilt on the same axis you turned on, leaning back to let those muscles start to stretch.
You should feel the stretch right up from your hip flexors all the way up into your core area. Relax and breathe into it; you don't want any tension here.
Don't tense up or force the stretch or anything like that. You're not forcing your body to lean down, you're allowing it to lean. Stay relaxed and breathe into this area.
Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds, really focusing on your breathing as you do.
As you come back up, you will find that you now have more flexibility and can turn a little bit farther while still keeping your hips square and facing forward. Rotate that extra little bit, until you find the spot where you start to get a little bit of tension again. Once again, lean back into it, keeping the muscles nice and supple and relaxed.
Never force the stretch. Just hold it comfortably for 5-10 seconds, breathing into the muscles that feel tight. Again, come back up and turn some more.
You can also lean on the same axis in the other direction. This will provide a different kind of stretch for the muscles on the opposite side. As always, when you straighten back up, you'll find that you have greater flexibility.
Of course you'll repeat these steps on the other side as well. Rotate as far as you comfortably can in the other direction, then lean back and breathe into it, keeping those muscles nice and relaxed. Come back up and rotate a little bit more.
Never Force It
The key is never to force any of these muscles to stretch. You just want them to be nice and relaxed.
You're loosening up the muscles, not trying to pull them apart or anything like that. Just let the core muscles stretch out a little.
It may be an unusual feeling for many of you, because many golfers have core areas that are too tight.
They have all the power they need, but they lack the flexibility to make a good, relaxed, athletic turn and use the muscles correctly without getting a lot of tension in the swing.
These stretches are great to do before you go out and play golf or hit balls on the range. Just loosen up the core area and get it nice and relaxed for your next round of golf.
Checkpoints for Practice
- Many golfers have plenty of core strength, but lack the the flexibility for a nice, relaxed, athletic turn
- Improve core flexibility: With feet & hips forward, hold a driver behind your shoulders and rotate gently back without turning hips
- When you feel resistance, relax your muscles and tilt back, allowing muscles to stretch gently
- Hold & breathe for 5-10 seconds, then stand back up - you will be able to turn farther
- Repeat, then repeat again leaning forward instead of back, then rotate in the other direction and repeat there