Everyone says they SHOULD BE doing it. Many people ARE doing it. But most people have no idea how they should be doing it.
I am of course talking about stretching. It is an amazing tool for you to have in your toolbox as a golfer, but much like any other tool you own, you must know how to operate it properly in order to use it effectively and safely.
In this post, I want to address a few simple, yet imperative concepts in the world of stretching that will make your efforts much more targeted and effective in the gym and before playing your next round.
ARE YOUR STRETCHES WORKING?
When you stretch, do you have a routine that you do every time?
How long have you been doing the same stretches?
Have they been effective in getting you the results you want?
Do you notice an improvement in your performance when you stretch vs when you don’t?
Or do you just do them to say you did them?
If these questions have brought up some concerns about your current flexibility routine, I would like to introduce you to two techniques, or types of stretching that make all the difference in the world when it comes to doing the right stretch at the right time.
STATIC vs DYNAMIC
Static and dynamic stretching are not new concepts. But it seems as though when we say, “stretching,” the subconsciously assigned definition is the static, long holding stretch that we have all done.
It seems as though the concept of dynamic stretching is somewhat new or foreign to many people.
Therefore, I would like to take the time to explain both and give a few examples of each, so you can make adjustment to your program as needed.
Static stretching is when you move your body into a position in an attempt to lengthen a muscle, group of muscles, and/or create more movement at a joint . At the end range of the motion, the position is maintained for a duration of time. The hold can vary, but is generally instructed to be between 15-30 seconds to let the muscles and connective tissue “stretch.”
The end goal of this technique is to increase the amount of movement in that particular range of motion and in the designated muscle(s)/joint.
Dynamic stretching is similar to static stretching in the fact that you are moving your body in specific directions with the intention of creating mobility, but the major difference is that you do not hold the position at the end range. Think of it more as moving into and out of the positions, “grooving” the motion, to either prepare that muscle group/joint for action or with the intent of teaching and facilitating an unfamiliar movement and position.
The end goal of this technique might be to increase the range of motion, but often times is also used as more of a “priming for action,” or a warm-up.
HOW SHOULD I USE THESE TECHNIQUES
As I mentioned before, both of these are very valuable tools that can have significant benefits, but there is a time and place to use both.
Without getting too technical, think of it this way. Dynamic stretching is much more effective in a “warming up” scenario. If you are getting ready to work out, play a round of golf, or even getting ready to go for a jog (we’ll discuss this option for your cardio choice at another time!) a dynamic stretch or warmup is more ideal for this situation.
Why? Because a DYNAMIC STRETCH simply wakes your body up, telling it “Hey, I’m about to do some physical activity.”
By taking your body through some of the movement patterns that you will be doing during your activity, you are making the muscles and joints aware of the upcoming motions that they will be expected to perform. This increases the blood flow to the muscles/joints, improves their elasticity, and wakes up the pathways from the brain the given tissues.
On the other end of the spectrum are the long duration, STATIC STRETCHES. These are better served as part of a cooling down routine or post activity for a couple of reasons.
Since the goal of these is to create more motion, after exercise or competition is ideal because the body and tissues are generally “warmed up” which allows them to lengthen easier (think of the muscles as similar to Taffy, it’s easier to pull apart after it’s been sitting in your car on a hot day, but if you try to stretch it cold, it is virtually impossible).
The long duration stretches allow the body to relax more and the muscles become more lax. This is great post workout, but would you really want that before teeing off in a big match? If the idea is to be explosive and powerful off the tee, being in a relaxed state with loose muscles is not exactly “priming you for action.”
DON’T OVERCOMPLICATE IT
Hopefully this all makes sense. I could go into a lot more detail on this whole topic, but then this post would look a little more like a novel.
The main concepts are that a dynamic stretch is generally best suited in more of a warm up situation, preparing the body for movement, while a static stretch will serve you better after activity or in a situation where you are NOT getting ready to play or do something explosive.
If you have a question, feel free to ask it in the comments below.
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