Consistency, balance and power are three of the most important aspects of the golf swing, and perhaps the best way to improve your swing in those areas is to increase your flexibility. Nearly all professional golfers understand the need to increase flexibility, or at least to maintain it as they age. And becoming more flexible isn’t just good for golf; it also has other life benefits. The simple act of stretching may help prevent injuries or even illness, and all it takes is 10 easy minutes a day. One of the best ways to improve your flexibility, and your golf swing, is yoga. We’ve listed four yoga poses the avid golfer can do to become more flexible and shore up the golf swing.
Before you push yourself to your flexibility limits with yoga, it’s important to warm up. You want your blood flowing and your joints lubricated before you push yourself to your yoga limits. Typically, a good yoga warm-up begins with some basic poses that are designed to get the body moving, rather than to improve flexibility per se.
1. Crescent Lunge (Hip Flexor)
Players with tight hips often struggle to keep their pelvis stable as they swing the club back, which can cause an improper weight shift to the front foot (reverse pivot). On top of that, players with limited hip flexibility tend to thrust the pelvis toward the ball on the downswing, which leads to early extension. This yoga position will help expand your hip flexor and help enable a more consistent and more natural-feeling hip turn. It can also help you improve your balance. (image source: slowbody.com)
2. Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Hamstring, Groin)
Flexibility and strength in the hamstring and groin areas are extremely important because these areas serve to support the hips and balance in your swing. This position works in combination with the previous position and also helps stretch the back. You can also push toward your left and right toes to help stretch the exterior hip.
3. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Back, Hips)
This is a great pose for increasing your ability to turn naturally. Twists increase flexibility in the spine, calm the mind, relax the nervous system, improve digestion, and cleanse the internal organs. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose is a popular seated twist. (image source: yogaoutlet.com)
Any and all stretches for your back can help you improve your golf and prevent injury.
4. Cow Face Pose (Shoulders, Hips, Chest)
Shoulder flexibility in golf is an essential aspect of a fluid golf swing. The shoulder joint itself is a classic ball and socket joint. It’s similar to the hip, but with a lot less stabilization. This design allows the joint a lot of motion in all planes of movement, but puts it at a greater risk of injury. Even as mobile as the shoulder joint is made to be, if not moved through its full range of motion on a regular basis, you will begin to lose the motion needed for a free golf swing. As we’ve seen, many of these poses involve the hips and shoulders, and one of the best yoga poses for increasing strength and flexibility in the avid golfer’s shoulders is the cow face pose. It’s named after the illusion created by the full pose, that of the face of a cow: The crossed legs create the cow’s snout and mouth, and the arms create the cow’s ears. The body’s torso creates the length of the cow’s nose. It might take some imagination to see it! (image source: lovemyyoga.com)
Tip: Many of us won’t be able to clasp our hands behind our backs. If this is you, use a strap to connect your hands behind your back.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of a personal trainer. But many of these stretches and poses can be amplified with the help of a trained professional. Check out some of these stretches by Adam Scott on The Golf Channel.
Have you ever tried yoga to improve your golf swing? If so, what other poses or tips have helped your game?