Golf Fitness with Dr. Steve -- Golf Flexibility: A Primer on Stretching for the Spring

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By Dr. Steven M. Horwitz, Maryland Director, National Strength and Conditioning Association

I love the definition of flexible in Dorland’s Medical Dictionary, “readily bent without tendency to break.”  This definition encompasses both the golf performance aspect – being flexible enough to get the club in the position you desire – and injury prevention aspect – not breaking while you do this – of flexibility.   Flexibility is probably the most neglected component of a fitness program. As we age, our tissues lose elasticity and we lose flexibility.


How do you get more flexible?  By including a daily stretching routine as part of your golf fitness program you will improve range of motion and decrease resistance in muscles and tendons.  There are two basic types of stretching: Static and Dynamic.  Dynamic stretching can be divided into several different types and can be part of a proper warm-up.  The topics of dynamic stretching and warming-up will be covered in future articles. This month’s article will focus on static stretching. 


I have chosen seven different stretches that, if performed regularly, will improve your performance on the golf course and decrease your chances of injury.  The stretches target typical areas of inflexibility in golfers that negatively effect all the phases of the golf swing. Increasing flexibility will lengthen your distance, improve your accuracy and prevent injury.


Static stretching is the simplest method of stretching.  I recommend this type of stretching AFTER your workout or round of golf has been completed.  It can be done immediately after or several hours later.  The key to static stretching is what I call the BREATHING STRETCH.  It is as simple as this:


  1. Place the body part into a position of gentle stretch. Gentle stretch means you feel a slight, comfortable pull, NOT a ripping or tearing sensation.
  2. Take a deep breath in.
  3. Exhale and increase the stretch position ever so slightly.  Just take what your body will give you.  THIS SHOULD BE COMFORTABLE, NOT PAINFUL!  DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH!  DO NOT BOUNCE!
  4. Repeat this process until you can no longer increase your range of motion. The length of time you hold the stretch is determined by the time it takes you to say, “That’s it, I’ve reached my limit of movement.”  It may be two inhalation/exhalation cycles or 10 cycles – 10 seconds, one minute, or more. Once again, just take what your body gives you.


Once you get your breathing in synch with the stretching you will be amazed at how effective it is.  Here are pictures of the stretches with descriptions (see below): 

Start your daily stretching program by performing just one repetition of the breathing method for each stretch position (and each side of the body).  Another way to approach static stretching is like a gentle, moving meditation.  I guarantee you will notice a difference if you perform this program for 30 days. Get started today and let me know the results.  Email me with any questions or comments at


Calf Stretch -- Place one leg forward and one leg back keeping both heels on the ground. The rear leg should be straight and the front leg should be bent at the knee. Place hands on wall at shoulder level and keep back straight by drawing belly button inward. Bend arms and move chest and hips toward the wall without arching your back. Stop movement when slight tension is felt in the rear calf.

Quadriceps (Front Thigh) Stretch -- Lie on your side. Bring your bottom knee up toward your abdomen. Use your bottom arm to grasp as low on your bottom leg (close to the ankle or foot) as possible. Grasp your topside ankle (not your foot) with your topside arm. Pull backwards from the hip. Do not pull your heel to your buttocks. Swing back from the hip and you will feel the stretch in the front thigh.

Hamstring (Rear Thigh) Stretch -- Lie down on floor with legs flat. Flex hip and knee of one leg (90-90 position). Support the bent leg with the hands in the crease of the knee and keep abdominal muscles tight.

Hamstring (Rear Thigh) Stretch -- Slowly straighten the leg until a tension is felt in the hamstring.

Piriformis (Buttocks) -- Lie on your back and with feet flat on floor. Bend hip and knee of one leg to a 90-90 position. Cross this bent leg across the other knee in a figure 4 position. Draw the belly button inward and pull the thigh toward your abdomen until your feel the stretch in the buttocks.

Golf Upper Body Stretch -- Stand up straight in a doorway and draw the belly button inwards. Reach straight up with one arm to the top of the doorframe. With the other arm reach across your body and grasp the doorframe. This will stretch the side (Latissimus dorsi) where the arm reaches up and the rear shoulder of the arm reaching across.

Golf Upper Body Stretch -- Part two.

Chest Stretch -- Stand facing a doorway. Place your hands at shoulder level and place one foot forward and one behind. Keep your torso up straight - do not arch your back or lean forward from the waist. Lean into the doorway feeling the stretch in the pectoral (chest) area. Repeat stretch with the opposite leg forward.

Behind Back Shoulder Stretch -- Grasp a towel and place your hands behind your back as shown. Use the top hand to pull the bottom hand up your back.

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Dr. Steven Horwitz is certified as a Chiropractic Sports Physician, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and a USA Weightlifting Club Coach. Dr. Horwitz was selected by the United States Olympic Committee as the sole chiropractor for the 1996 United States Olympic Team and has traveled internationally with U.S.A. Track and Field.  In 1996, the Governor appointed Dr. Horwitz to the Maryland Council on Physical Fitness and served as Chairman of the council from 2002 to 2004. In 2004, Dr. Horwitz was selected as the Maryland State Director for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is a recipient of the Maryland Chiropractic Association's Outstanding Achievement Award and Washingtonian magazine has chosen him as one of the Washington, D.C. area's top sports medicine doctors.  Dr. Horwitz is the author of the book YOU CAN BE FIT! and he competes in powerlifting and bodybuilding.  He is a certified ART® and Graston Technique practitioner and practices in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Steven M. Horwitz, DC, CCSP, CSCS, USAW
Maryland Director, National Strength and Conditioning Association
Chairman, Maryland Council on Physical Fitness 2002-2004
12200 Tech Road, Suite 104
Silver Spring, MD 20904

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