I’m going to describe a familiar scenario:
You know what you want from your swing, it’s clear in your mind; your brain knows exactly where you should be. But you still fudge it, you feel out of control of your own body ,and you wake up the next day feeling sore and uncomfortable.
Knowing what a great swing looks like and being able to do it are totally different things.
Today we’re bridging that gap by discussing the best stretches for golf. You can (and should) use these to get your game up, improving your swing, and keep yourself in one piece so you can get on with practice and progress.
Best Stretches for a Better Back-Swing
It should be obvious: if you’re too tight to get into a good backswing position, you’re already limiting your potential. Removing this kind of movement deficiency is a single change that pays off in technique and avoiding the soreness and niggling aches you keep experiencing the day after playing.
First, we want to look at what a good back-swing should look like and the body parts it’s going to ‘lean on’. This is going to guide your stretching routine since this is where you make the most progress with the least time and effort investment.
Let’s take a look at what a great back-swing looks like so we can see what we’re aiming for:
Obviously, a lot of the energy for a golf swing comes from loading into a rotated position, and this is clear in the torso, especially.
However, rotating the spine is something that often carries injury risk and is one of the limiting factors for most recreational golfers. If you’re not a pro, you probably don’t have the time to work on core rotation for 30-60 minutes a day, so you need to get the most effect from the least time.
Arguably, the best stretches for golfers are in this rotational movement. It ties the hips and core together, and it’s also a great way to warm up for golf. Stretching and improving movement-freedom, then patiently practicing this rotation will add yards to your swing and years to your game.
It’s also important to look at how this affects the muscles in the lower back; lower back stretches for golf are crucially important, so many of the stretches in this section will cross-over between torso rotation and lower back health.
Improving this rotation allows you to really load up your swing and ‘sit on the punch’ without compromising your technique. Rotation is also how many people cause every-day lifestyle injuries in the spine, so we’re future-proofing your spine and helping to avoid lower-mid back pain.
- Straddled toe-reaches (and standing variation)
- Kneeling rotations
- Iron cross
- Scorpion stretch
- Seated rotation with dowel
- Dead bug
- Bird dog
The back-swing is also a time where you’re going to shift the weight back into the rear foot and load up on the hip and hamstring, which are also places where we tend to see tightness in most people.
Getting these structures mobile is going to help you really lean into them without risking injury or feeling like you’re limited in how you can move. We want to loosen up the hamstring specifically, and focus on the mild hinging you can see in Rory’s back hip.
We want the hips to move as freely as possible since they’re going to be generating most of the force in the swing, so getting this portion right can really deliver in the short-term, especially if you’re mobilising before and between games.
- Standing hamstring stretch (with rotation)
- Kneeling hamstring stretch
- Standing straddle stretch
- Hip hinge drill (with dowel; paused)
Golf is a demanding sport for the shoulders and your backswing really puts them through their paces. We want to focus on loosening up the front of the shoulder girdle for a better backswing, and then we’ll focus on the back when we come to the follow-through.
The idea here is to reduce the demands and limitations so you can keep the chest open and reach back into your backswing comfortably. These are also going to be good postural stretches anyway, and reduce the risk of shoulder and elbow pain.
The elbow is an area where the goal of stretching is just health – it’s not going to make much difference to performance if you can straighten your arm. Rather, we’re keeping it healthy because of the stress that repeated swings and poor mobility can produce.
Golfer’s elbow is a common problem, and dealing with it in advance can help you keep playing and avoid injury. Remaining pain-free is key; nothing slows your progress like having to take time out to recover from injury. This is a common
Stretching for golfer’s elbow is going to be important above and below the elbow itself, offering a way of relieving golfer’s elbow pain by reducing demands on the joint. The best stretches for golfer’s elbow will integrate these two – and it’s why we’ve included wrist stretching as well as shoulder and tricep stretches.
Shoulder stretching is one way we’ve already started improving it, but specific elbow health stretches are a great way to keep yourself in good shape.
Best Stretches for a Better Follow-Through
A good golf swing is a fluid movement from back-swing to follow-through. If you get them both right, you can worry about the nuances of the middle by doing and drilling, but the follow-through is also one of the areas where we’re most limited by mobility.
As the goal you’re aiming at with your swing, you want your follow-through to be pain-free, consistent, and comfortable. This is a movement with a lot of demand on common movement-limitations, so it’s no surprise that you could benefit from stretching and mobility.
Again, let’s look at a photo that is definitely of me so we can see what you are working towards:
So, what do we need to work on here that we’ve not touched on with the back-swing? Many of the stretches above will help here, but the follow-through does point to some other areas that need attention and a little TLC during your mobility work.
The best stretches for golf will carry over both ways, but we still need to focus on the specifics for the follow-through, since this is a unique and extreme range position that is both most likely to suffer from, but increase risk of, injuries.
One of the keys to a good follow-through is strong, full hip extension. If this is missing, you’re already limiting your own performance. It’s why we put hip extension at top priority – alongside its effects on hip and knee health, as well as injury risk. We’re going to improve this with proper movement, but also through effective hip flexor stretches.
Opening up the hip is a performance and injury issue, so the way you get better is to stretch it and practice opening up. We do this by reducing limitations in the hip flexor muscles – the group of muscles at the front of the hips that get tight from sitting, which we all do too much of!
Hip extension stretches are pretty simple and easy, though they can feel very tight at first, and the hip flexor stretches will need some time and patience.
With the follow-through, we’re also seeing the torso open up alongside the hips, into the classic “banana” extension shape. This does require a little bit of mobility through the upper back and comfortable movement through full-range with the core itself.
This isn’t something you see people do often, but these stretches will help with posture and proper full-range extension for those long drives.
You’re also going to need to have good control in the rotation of the thighs for both the backswing and follow-through, since they’re going to be working through a long range of rotation that you probably aren’t doing in your everyday life.
This is a pretty quick fix; you just need to actually move through this range of motion during your mobility work. The demands and returns aren’t likely to be as great as other areas we’ve discussed so far, but it’s still important you don’t overlook it!
As mentioned in the back-swing section, we’re shifting focus to the back of the shoulders for the follow-through. This is where we need to make sure the shoulders can move through a full range-of-motion so that you’re not cut short or left with any unnecessary pain from your swing.
We want to make sure the shoulder blades are moving and there are no restrictions, allowing you to get a nice, long, smooth follow-through on the swing.