STRETCH YOUR HAMSTRINGS FOR A PAIN-FREE SWING

Bob Forman
Certified Golf Fitness Instructor
MS, Exercise Physiology
 

Tight hamstrings, the muscles in the back of the upper thigh, play a key role in lower back discomfort and pain, and can take away from the efficiency of your golf swing.

Here’s a simple test to determine if your hamstrings are tight.  Place your feet together and, keeping the knees locked, slowly reach down toward the floor with your fingertips.  Don’t strain, just go as far as you can till you feel the stretch in the back of the legs.  Now bend the knees slightly before you stand back up as this will take the pressure off the back muscles.  Keep this in mind the next time you bend over to pick something up off the floor!   

Could you touch the floor without bending the knees?  If so, you pass, congratulations!  If you can’t touch the floor, your hamstrings are tight and you may be at greater risk for back discomfort and a reduction in hip mobility.  The further away from the floor you were, the tighter the hamstrings, and the greater the risk for back and mobility issues.
 

Why the hamstrings?  After all they’re in the legs, not the back.  What’s the connection?  The hamstrings, a tonic or postural muscle, attach themselves to the hip bone from underneath and have a tendency to shorten if not stretched, like when you sit most of the day.  If this occurs, over a period of time the tightened hamstrings will pull the hip down and back, rotating the hip bone posteriorly.  As this occurs, the natural curve in the lower back (lumbar curve) straightens out somewhat.  This is known as a flat-back posture. 

Now this may sound like something good, but it’s not.  The curve in the lumbar area must exist, as is, for everything to function normally.  If there is any deviation of this normal curve, the discs (those jelly donut structures in-between each vertebrae) will get pinched, increasing the potential for wear
and tear, and an enhanced rate of degeneration of the disc itself.  This will ultimately reduce the space between two vertebrae, compromising the nerve root that extends out through that space, or foramen, causing pain and  discomfort.  This could also cause the disc itself to rupture out into the opening and press against the nerve root, causing pain and discomfort. In either case, the discomfort felt in and/or down the leg(s) is called sciatica.   

Long before that occurs, however, you’ll be susceptible for low back muscle strains and aches.  Once the hip bone rotates downward, as a result of the tight hamstrings pulling on it, the low back muscles become taut as they are attached to the hip bone from above.  The simplest of tasks, like picking up a stamp off the floor or reaching for the phone, can strain the low back and create both acute and chronic havoc.  (Another cause of low back strain can be a tight QL muscle.)    

For golfers, this condition hastens the degree of post-round low back stiffness and injury due to the explosive nature of the one-sided golf swing.  The rotational component of the swing is also negatively affected as tight hamstrings may not allow the freedom of movement desired in the hip area.  This could detract from the efficiency of the swing and rob you of the ability to generate power and distance.       

To prevent and or alleviate this situation, a regular stretching program is warranted (see video links below for additional stretches).  Concentrate on stretches that isolate the back of the thigh for best results.  For example, sit on a flat bench or solid coffee table or place two armless chairs side-by-side and sit on one and place one leg up on the other.  Let the foot hang off the edge of the table/chair as this will keep the calf from becoming engaged.  This will ensure an isolation of the hamstring.  Keeping the knee down and the back straight, slowly reach down the leg with your hands, hinging from the hip as you bend forward, till a gentle stretch is felt behind the thigh and/or knee.  Keep your chin up.  Don’t let your chin touch your chest as this will place an unwanted stretch on the back muscles.  Repeat with the other leg and remember to breath.     

Each stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds with no bouncing.  The best time to work on flexibility is after the body has been warmed, where the muscles will be a little more pliable.  After an exercise session is ideal or after a warm bath or shower.

If you found yourself quite a distance from the floor in the above assessment for hamstring flexibility, a static stretch may not provide sufficient stimulus to increase range of motion.  In this case, a dynamic stretch is recommended.  

A dynamic stretch such as the dynamic hamstring uses a principle called reciprocal inhibition.  This principle states that when one muscle contracts, the opposing muscles relax.  So while lying on your back, hold one leg behind the knee and smoothly extend and bend the leg up and down.  This action requires contracting the quadriceps in the front of ther thigh with concommitant relaxation of the hamstrings in the back.  Do 15 to 20 reps on each leg as often as you can to enhance range of motion.       

The road to low back stability and a better golf swing can be a smooth one.  Be patient.  Try the stretching routine for awhile and you should feel some improvement.  If after awhile you don’t, consult a trained practitioner.  Once your back does improve, though, you must keep up the stretching routine as a preventative measure.  Relief is in your hands, or for that matter, your legs.   

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH

Quad-Hip Flexor Stretch

This is a progressive stretch for the quad-hip flexor area.  Be cautious as you lean back on the bench as it will challenge the knee if the quads are tight.  Avoid this stretch if you've had knee replacement.  Tight quads/hip flexors will impede hip mobility and that may rob you of power and distance.

 

 

Check with your physician before starting any type of exercise program.

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

GOLF FITNESS
ASSESSMENT & TRAINING


A quality, customized golf fitness program will. . .
  • Enhance swing efficiency
  • Increase distance
  • Improve playing performance and satisfaction
  • Identify and correct golf-specific injury triggers

    All for much less than what another brand new driver that's going to "fix my game" would cost
     
click here for details

  


The golf exercises are going great.  I am hitting the ball the best I have ever hit it.  My back pain has gone away also. 
 
David R. 

more testimonials

HOST A WORKSHOP

If your Club or organization would like to host an informative golf fitness workshop, contact Bob at bob@golfitcarolina.com or 336-509-4610.

Bob came to my club and did a hour long session on the basics of his teaching and philosophy of fitness and how it relates to the golf swing and its performance.  My members thoroughly enjoyed the hour and wanted more.  I was impressed with his content and explanation.  My members were floored with his Q&A and his personal adaptation to their issues.  I was impressed with his interaction with attendants of the seminar.  If you are looking for someone to integrate your fitness program with the golf program, Bob is the guy to do it!  We will be booking Bob to come back to our club next spring.
Shannon Howell, PGA Head Golf Professional
Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC


"Bob Forman was fabulous!  He is a great presenter who shared some extremely valuable information related to how anatomical deficiencies such as: poor posture, flexibility, and balance impact our golf swing.  He not only shared what they are and how they impact the swing, but also demonstrated exercises to help correct them."
Ellen Gregory
EWGA-Wilmington, NC chapter

“Westchester is one of the Country’s largest private clubs with a membership that has high expectations for service and performance.  Bob Forman’s seminar on golf specific fitness and flexibility was extremely well received and motivated many of my members to begin a program of evaluation, exercise and follow-ups.  I highly recommend Bob for his knowledge, energy , and ability to connect with amateurs concerning golf fitness.” 
John Kennedy, Director of Golf
Westchester CC, 
Harrison, NY

Bob has a fantastic ability to understand and combine his expertise of the physical complexities of the human body with the PGA Professional’s trained eye with respect to the complexities of the golf swing.  Bob offers a refreshing angle that most amateur and professional golfers can understand and embrace.  Many times, a golfer will have physical limitations that prevents him or her from moving the way the PGA Professional is trying to instruct.  Bob can take the golfer’s weakest physical traits and focus a training program to better overcome those obstacles and allow the golfers to ultimately improve their swing. 
Dennis Nicholl, PGA Head Golf Professional
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

Functional Golf Fitness Training is a comprehensive player improvement resource for golfers of all ages and levels, teaching professionals and coaches.  
A great manual for golf teams as well.  

Dedicated chapters on:
- the common physical deficiencies most golfers have, how to detect and correct with over 40 golf-specific exercises and drills
- preventing/alleviating the #1 injury in golf, low back injury
- how to fix the more common swing faults 
- how to put together an inexpensive home gym

Amazon reviews:

"Very clear explanations of causes and fixes for main physical deficiencies affecting golfers. Easy to follow instructions. While other books may give a whole laundry list of exercises that end up not being used, Forman has selected a few for each issue and puts together a program that doesn't take long to do"

"This book not only tells you what to do but also why you need to do and what results you can expect.
I have every book in print about golf fitness and this book is by far the best."


Available in print at TheBookPatch

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or as an ebook on Amazon

Go to
http://www.amazon.com/Functional-Golf-Fitness-Training-ebook/dp/B00FH88Q0Q

SWING FAULT PHYSIOLOGY

Swing mechanics are often influenced by physical deficiencies in the golfer's body.  Below are some of the more common swing faults, their physical causes and how to correct.

GOLF POSTURE

S-POSTURE AND LOW BACK PAIN

EARLY EXTENSION

SWAY & SLIDE

REVERSE SPINE

While correcting the deficiencies, you also need to rewire the brain-body connection in order to break out of the inefficient swing pattern.  

REWIRE THE BAD SWING HABIT

RADIO / PODCASTS

 

 
June 22, 2017
(go to 1:10:00 into the show)
golf posture, muscle imbalance, improving distance, stretching, hydration, Tiger and specialization, Rory and weight lifting



March 14, 2015
(go to 1:08:00 into the show)
fitness vs. golf fitness, strength training and slowing down the aging process, C and S-postures,  


August 28, 2014
We talk about Shan's golf fitness assessment results

 


June 26, 2014


scroll down to 9/9/2013
(go to 23:15 into the show)
back injury