PGA Training Academy sports scientists Ben Langdown and Jack Wells report on the latest research into warm-up exercises and note big differences in the benefits of exercises which are golf specific, dynamic and resistance band based.
Imagine popping down to your golf range to observe the warm-up routine of the golfers in action. While you may not be the gambling type, it’s a pretty safe bet that if you did you would see an array of air swings, poor static stretches, some funky looking bending contortions or most likely nothing at all.
But is this sort of routine similar for elite players? A study by Bridge and colleagues (2008) monitored the warm-up routines on the Ladies European Tour and found that they predominately performed static stretches or dynamic stretches which involved just shoulder rotations and air swings. With this study in mind it seems that there is potentially little difference between your range and a range full of tour professionals.
Club golfers and to some extent elite golfers, have managed to slip into a culture whereby warm-ups are not seen as a vital part of performance. What the majority of golfers seem to forget is that golf is similar to sprinting in that it is a very explosive action which culminates in a lot of force travelling through the body over a very short period of time.
Yet despite the similarities you wouldn’t see a sprinter stroll out to the track and try to compete, without performing appropriate stretches. Perhaps in golf we are missing something? What should we be doing, or is the culture right? In this article we will explore these questions and dispel some of the myths that surround the game of golf.
Firstly we know from a growing body of research that incorporating static stretches into a warm-up routine rather than having benefits can in fact drastically reduce power output (Yamaguchi et al, 2006). Furthermore, static stretches have been shown to still have a significant reduction on explosive performance even after 24 hours (Hadad et al, 2014). This contrasts with dynamic stretches which still had a 1.6 percent increase in performance.
Although static stretching is shown to reduce power output, we are not saying that they should not be performed at all; they have a part to play and are really important for injury prevention and flexibility development. So perhaps it’s a better idea to perform dynamic stretches as part of a warm-up routine and static stretches after the round of golf.
Interestingly, in other sports there has been a gradual shift towards using resistance bands as part of a general warm-up routine. Many professional football and rugby clubs for example have been using resistance bands to warm-up their athletes. However this concept hasn’t really found its way into golf.
To highlight its potential benefits we decided to compare the effects that a golf specific warm-up, a dynamic warm-up and a resistance band warm-up had on golf performance. A total of 24 proficient golfers took part in all of the warm-up routines.
The golf specific warm-up involved hitting 20 balls followed by ten drives which were recorded. The dynamic and resistance band warm-ups each consisted of five stretches, which we found can be performed in as little as five to ten minutes. The aim was to ensure that each routine targeted both the lower body and upper body (an example of the dynamic and resisted warm-up exercises can be seen in the images).
As expected, we found that dynamic stretches generated significantly higher clubhead speed and ball speed when compared to the golf specific warm-up. However, it was also found that the resistance band warm-up had an even greater effect than both the dynamic and golf specific conditions.
Most interestingly, we discovered that after performing the dynamic and resistance band warm-up, one subject managed to hit their driver on average 37.5 yards and 44.5 yards further respectively than when they performed the golf specific routine.
If most people were told that they could increase their drive distance by purchasing the latest driver, I think it would be a safe bet they would buy it! With that in mind for your students’ next golfing investment it might be worth purchasing a resistance band which will only cost a few pounds and will help them develop a warm-up routine that reaps rewards on the fairways.
The research shows it works, so why not give it a try?