Mobility and Flexibility: Myths, Truths, and Why It’s Important in Golf
Now that we have defined mobility and why it is important in the golf swing, let’s talk about some myths that are commonly associated with stretching and mobility work.
Stretching will lengthen short muscles.
There is high quality evidence that stretching does not lengthen short muscles or tissues in the body1. Stretching can change the perception of tightness, so you can tolerate more stretch and range of motion even though the tissues don’t actually change.
Stretching after a hard workout will help with muscle soreness.
Muscle soreness, known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS, is something you might experience after a hard workout. There is some debate about what exactly causes DOMS (tissue microdamage or nerve fatigue), which is a discussion for another day, but research shows that stretching before, after, or both before and after a workout does not decrease DOMS the next day2. If you consistently get sore after your workouts you should work with a professional to assess how hard you are going in the gym, sleep, nutrition, and stress.
Stretching will improve your performance.
Research also shows that stretching will not help your strength or power performance3. Seeing how golf is a power sport (the swing takes about 1 second start to finish), spending a lot of time stretching before hand will likely hurt more than help your game.
Now a dynamic warm-up, doing some movements through your range of motion, does help your performance. The thing here is that it hasn’t been compared to doing some light loaded activities (think squats, lunges, and resistance band exercises). So best thing to do to get ready for your round is some active movement in the ranges of motion you need for your golf swing. Future blog coming on the best warm-up sequence for golfers.
Stretching will decrease injury risk.
Sorry again, stretching won’t decrease your injury risk4. However, strength training does help decrease injury risk significantly. So if you want to protect yourself against that pesky back pain, pick up a barbell instead of a stretching strap.
Mobility Truths: How to actually improve your mobility
I wish I had a sexy answer for you but this is pretty simple. Move your body through your full range of motion at a joint with as little compensation as possible from other areas. Ideally you are doing this with some sort of extra load if possible. For example: if working on hip rotation you could sit or stand and work on rotating your hips without compensating through your trunk or shifting side to side: VIDEO. You could also use a resistance band to move as far as you can against that band.
The bottom line is that static stretching will help you push into a stretch more. Without actively moving your body into that extra range of motion, you won’t make a lasting improvement.
Questions? Feel free to DM me on Instagram at @tim.golfstrong or Email me at email@example.com. I’m currently taking clients for performance training to improve strength, mobility, and power!
Harvey LA, Katalinic OM, Herbert RD, Moseley AM, Lannin NA, Schurr K. Stretch for the treatment and prevention of contractures. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD007455. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007455.pub3.
Herbert RD, de Noronha M, Kamper SJ. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD004577. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004577.pub3.
Peck E, Chomko G, Gaz DV, Farrell AM. The effects of stretching on performance. Current sports medicine reports. ; 13(3):179-85.
Lauersen JB, Bertelsen DM, Andersen LB. The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British journal of sports medicine. 2014; 48(11):871-7