In the fitness world, there’s a lot of emphasis on building strength through resistance training, whether you’re pumping iron or using your own bodyweight. There’s a good reason for that: increased strength comes from lifting increasingly heavier things over and over again. But strengthening alone won’t necessarily translate into bigger drives. To get the most out of your body, you also need to be focusing on flexibility.
If your muscles are stiff, which can happen if you lift a lot of heavy weights, your range of motion becomes more limited. You can’t use your body’s natural ability to act like a coiled spring and you can’t make the most of that gym-built strength and power.
Let’s go outside the realm of golf for a moment and look at boxing. The power behind a boxer’s punch comes from generating power from the entire body -- not just the shoulders and arms. A significant amount of power behind a punch actually comes from your legs, hips, and core!
The same goes for golf, except here it’s even more extreme. Your entire body -- from your toes to your fingers -- has to work together when you swing a golf club. If your range of motion is limited because your shoulders and upper back are stiff, then the power behind your swing is also going to be limited. In fact, you could be a huge bodybuilder and still hit like a beginner junior player simply because you’re unable to transfer all of that power into a fluid golf swing. Bigger is not necessarily always better on the golf course!
Because so many people neglect their shoulder health and flexibility, we’re going to discuss a few great golf stretches anyone can perform with very little equipment. You’ll be amazed at the dramatic effect they can have on the mobility of your shoulder joint. And you’ll be just as amazed at the power you’ll be able to generate with your swing.
Listen to the Right Experts
Not all stretching is the same. To improve your body for the sport of golf, you want to make sure you’re doing the things that will help you swing a club more efficiently. Golf-specific stretching will let you get the most out of your body and your game and minimize the potential for injury. And, as always, listen to your body and go at a slow and steady pace. In other words, if you can’t touch your toes while stretching… don’t try to do a split on Day One!
For those of you dealing with nagging, chronic injuries, it might be a good idea to see a physical therapist. A good physical therapist can assess the condition of your injury and your overall physical fitness and recommend exercises to deal with those nagging issues..
This Is Especially Important For Your Shoulders
When your shoulder mobility is limited, you’re not only going to have limited success on the course, but you may also be setting yourself up for injury. The golf swing is a complex and explosive movement that can cause a lot of damage to your body if you’re not prepared. If you have a stiff shoulder joint, you risk straining shoulder muscles and tendons in both your takeaway and follow-through. Rotator cuff injuries are common among golfers who may like lifting more than they like stretching. Improving flexibility is a great way to play better and feel better. Don’t expect to magically turn into an olympic gymnast overnight, but if you put in the time and effort, you will be pleased with the results.
Static vs. Dynamic Stretching
Before we dive into the exercises, we want to briefly touch on static and dynamic stretching.
Static stretches are what we usually think of as “stretching”...sitting and holding a hamstring stretch for 30 seconds, standing quad stretches...these are a great addition to your cool-down routine to help prevent injury.
Dynamic stretches are movements that gradually prep your body for performing the more explosive movements that sports require. The goal is to safely prepare your muscles to perform at an optimal level. They work well as a part of your warm-up routine and while exercising.
While there’s a time and a place for each type of stretching, for this article we’re going to focus on dynamic stretching.
Easy Shoulder Stretches You Can Perform at Home with Minimal Equipment
We regularly get golf fitness questions from players all over the world. We recently received a great one and wanted share the answer with you. “What are the best exercises to increase my strength and mobility in my shoulders?”
As we’ve mentioned, increasing your shoulder mobility will allow you to use more of your strength while playing golf and there’ll be a more complete transfer of energy down through the arms and into the club. Added mobility will allow your golf club to move smoothly through the giant huge range of motion involved in hitting the ball.
Check out these three stretches as demonstrated by Coach Joey D and Coach Noss and get ready to add range-of-motion to your shoulders...and yardage to your drive.
1. Golfer’s Dumbbell Raise
Use a ball or a bench to keep yourself stable and in the correct position and use light dumbbells.
Raise your arms above your head to create an “I” position. Hold there for 2 seconds, then slowly lower your arms back down to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
Next, bring your arms into a “Y” position. Hold for 2 seconds and then slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
After that, go into the “T” position. Same deal…10 reps up and down.
You can watch the video below to see the exact demonstration of each exercise. The important thing to remember is to focus on maintaining the motion and rhythm. Don’t worry so much about the weight. Once you’ve mastered the exercise motion, then you can start increasing the weight in your hands.
* If You Don’t Have an Exercise Ball or a Bench
One thing we want to emphasize is that most of these exercises can be performed with little or no equipment. If you don’t own any light dumbbells, use water bottles, soup cans, or anything that’s going to add a little bit of resistance to the movement. And if you don’t have a big ball or a bench, you can do the moves in a standing almost-address-like posture as Coach Noss is demonstrating here:
Bending your knees is important because you’re simulating the “address” position of the golf swing. If you watch more of our exercise videos you’ll notice that most of our exercises imitate the same range of motion your body goes through during a golf swing.
Most of the time, these exercises isolate a small portion of the golf swing movement so you can build up strength and mobility -- like the exercises above which are designed to build shoulder muscles and flexibility at the same time.
2. Dustin Johnson’s Favorite Shoulder-Turn Warm Up Exercise
This exercise is great for improving the strength and flexibility of the muscles around your shoulder blades. Start in the address position with your elbows pulled in close to your ribcage. Again, go with very light dumbbells.
Perform an external rotation movement in your setup position. The key here is to keep your upper arms close against your sides throughout the move.
Return back to your address position. Perform 10-20 reps while focusing on maintaining the correct posture.
3. Standing 90-90
Here’s another exercise you can easily perform at home. Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle and at shoulder height.
Raise your arms up until they are perpendicular to the floor.
Lower and repeat for 10-20 reps.
There you have it. Three simple, yet effective, shoulder exercises you can perform in your living room, at the gym, or even while traveling. The key takeaway here is to not neglect your flexibility and range of motion. In most sports, the majority of injuries occur because the body is too rigid and unprepared to be forced into unfamiliar positions. And while this article is focused on your shoulders, this applies to your entire body.
When you perform specific golf fitness exercises -- like we teach in Hit It Great -- your body naturally becomes better equipped to handle the explosive requirements of the golf swing. You’ll be able to outrange your golf partners, beat personal best scores, and you’ll feel a lot better every day.
If you’re looking for more golf fitness advice we offer three great options:
- Download our free golf eBooks to get some great insights into what golf fitness programs are, why they work, and how to implement the exercises into your own workout. This is a great first step in optimizing your body for golf.
- You can join us at our golf fitness training facility in Jupiter, Florida. On any given day, you’ll see complete beginners training in the same room as the top pros in the world like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Thomas. We offer personal training, group sessions, and more.
- If you don’t live close by or you prefer to practice at home, we’ve compiled all of our exercises into our online training program Hit It Great® . Everything is in video format and many of the exercises can be performed with minimal or no equipment. Most of our students like to train from their living room!
Team Hit IT Great
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