The benefits of stretching in order to help improve tissue length have been proven over and over again in the research. However, there is some mixed evidence that suggests that static stretching may actually hurt athletic performance.
While there are many common truths about the benefits of stretching, there also are some misconceptions that need to be cleared up. Here we will investigate the general principles behind stretching, and present some of the more recent facts regarding stretching and whether it can help (or hurt) your performance.
Also, if you are unfamiliar with stretching, or are just looking for some underlying rationale behind flexibility exercises, this is the page should provide you with some answers!
Improving your flexibility and range of motion needs to be a large component of your golf fitness program.
Benefits Of Stretching
Here are some of the specific benefits:
-Reduced muscle tension : Muscles that are more flexible also tend to be more relaxed. This is important in reducing cramps and general muscle soreness. Stress relief!
-Increased range of motion : The available range of motion at each of our joints is influenced greatly by the tension and length of the muscles (and other soft tissues) that attach to it. Improving flexibility allows for increased range of motion at these joints and improved mobility.
-Increased circulation : An effective warm up will bring more blood to the muscles being stretched, thus enhancing their ability to perform, as well as the ability to remove waste from the tissue. Increased blood flow also means more energy!
-Improved posture : Stretching of tight muscle groups can reduce some of the natural muscle imbalances that each of us develop. A great example of this are people that sit at a desk or in front of a computer all day. They typically have tight chest muscles, neck extensors, and weak mid back muscles.
-Better coordination : Increasing range of motion at your joints will allow muscles to work more effectively.
Stretching is important for people of all ages! However, this becomes more important as we get older and naturally begin to lose some of our flexibility. If you are a golfer looking to maintain your swing as you age, performing specific golf stretches is a must!
Stretching And Warming Up Are Different!
This is where many of the misconceptions regarding stretching lie. For many of us who played sports growing up, it was always reinforced that you need to stretch prior to practice or a game. Recent research has found that this isn't necessarily the case. A proper warmup should not consist of pure static stretching.
Performing prolonged static stretching on cold muscles can actually increase the risk of injury and decrease performance! This is especially true in high intensity activities such as running, cutting, or heavy lifting.
A solid warmup should be specific to the activity that you are going to perform and should include more dynamic ways to increase warmth and blood flow to the muscles.
For golfers, this means arm circles, neck rolls, gentle squats and practice swings, just to name a few. You can add in a few static stretches, but they shouldn't comprise the majority of your warmup.
You static stretches should be performed primarily at home. Remember, these stretches are intended to help increase flexibility and range of motion so you need to perform them gently, but for extended periods of time (>30 seconds) for max benefit. One other important tip is NO BOUNCING! Bouncing while performing a static stretch can damage the muscle, so once you find your gentle stretch, simply hold it.
For long term benefits of stretching, you will need to perform them 2-3x per week.
CAUTION: You can be injured by stretching! If you are unfamiliar with stretching, please consult your doctor or fitness professional to make sure you are using the proper technique.