One of the major problems with pursuing fitness goals at this time of year is respecting the energy limitations of the season. One of the ways to do this is to work on your base fitness level. Another way is to work out so that you are actually building energy rather than burning it. Increasing flexibility does both of these things, while increasing sport performance.
Rather than talk about golf specific stretches, I am going to talk about the mechanics of stretching as a function of the Training Tiger Woods Program.
Establish Your “V”
In a post last year, I talked about establishing your “V” while centering. The “V” is the imaginary lines from your shoulders to your navel when you’re in the centered position. This position aligns your body and allows for an open flowing breath. When stretching, if you are centered and capable of an open flowing breath, you are certain to have perfect form and will be able to improve your overall flexibility.
When stretching it is critical to limit the intensity to a 5 on the RPE (rate of perceived experience) chart below.
Rate of Perceived Experience - Stretching
1-2: Hardly feels like you’re stretching; breathing is normal and feels easy.
3-4: The muscle has slight tension. You could hold this position comfortably for a long time.
5: There is an awareness of tension in the muscle. You can hold this stretch comfortably.
Breathing is unrestricted and natural. As you hold the stretch, the muscles begin to relax and the RPE level decreases.
6-7: Muscle is tight. It would be uncomfortable to hold this position for very long. Breathing is restricted.
8-9: At this point the stretch actually hurts. The intensity will prevent you from focusing on the stretch and often causes you to hold your breath.
10: Here you are approaching the point of injury, with the range of motion being forced.
Stretches should be held for 5-10 centered breaths. By focusing on your breath you will be able to feel when the muscle actually releases.
For now, don’t worry about golf specific stretches. Increasing basic flexibility improves overall fitness. Later, this will make sport specific stretches more effective.
Begin by picking 4-5 common stretches that you like and know how to do. Hold each stretch for 5-10 centered breaths. Repeat 2-3 times for each stretch. This shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes per day.
I have added stretching 5-10 minutes per day as a part of my goals for the winter quarter. By following the guidelines that I have set here, I can ensure that I am protecting my energy expenditure while increasing my health and fitness levels.