Probably the two most frequently asked questions I get when people find out I'm the fitness editor for Golf Digest are: 1. Who are the nicest guys on the PGA Tour? 2. What kind of stretches should I do before I play?
The answer to No. 1 is that there are several really nice guys on tour, and I'd hate to leave anyone off the list who deserves to be on it. The answer to No. 2 is a little more complicated. For starters, I don't believe in doing long-hold stretches. I rarely do them. So when someone asks me what kind of stretches they should do, I almost always reply, "Do you mean what kind of warm-up?"
The difference is subtle but important. What you want are functional, elastic and primed muscles. What you don't want are unresponsive and soft muscles. While no study has ever definitively proven this, it's seems like common sense that the longer you hold a muscle in a stretched position, the more difficult it will be to contract that muscle properly. That's why I've learned over time to use the terms warm-up or movement prep instead of stretching.
If you buy into this theory--and many top fitness experts do--warming up for a round of golf should include activities that incorporate the three planes of movement and focus on key muscle groups needed for a good golf swing. Your body moves in three planes--front to back, side to side and rotationally; and the key muscles used in the golf swing include the hamstrings (back of the thighs), gluteals (butt), quadriceps (front of the thighs), abdominus (stomach, core), scapulae (shoulder blades), supraspinatus/infraspinatus (rotator cuffs) and hip adductors and abductors (inside and outside of thighs and hips). That's a lot to worry about, I know, and it doesn't cover everything.
Rather than worry about all of that, PGA Tour fitness trainer Dave Herman (@athletestrainin) has two dynamic warm-up exercises you can do that will hit many of the muscle groups and also train the body in two of the three planes of movement. Dave, who trains PGA Tour bomber Gary Woodland and former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, is the inventor of SuperFlex resistance bands and equipment (superflexbands.com). If you've never tried his products, I fully endorse them. Not only for their functionality but also their portability. You can stuff a band or two in your golf bag and use them before you play. And one band costs only $5.95.
To see Herman demonstrate his pre-round warm-up, click on the video below. Dave suggests you do 12-20 reps of each exercise before you tee it up.
Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest.
(Illustration by Stuart Bradford )