I am not a fan of stretching.
I think there are many other things that we can do to play better golf before I even think about stretching. Even then, the benefits are so minimal that I don’t think they are worth a golfer’s time or money.
Personally, I have not really found any benefits in my game for stretching. I do not want to ignore the impact of individualization but I still think it is one of the last ladder rungs.
For any of my golfers, I like to look for strength, power, activation and mobility before stretching comes in. Most mobility restrictions are cleared up if those 4 qualities are taken care of.
The goal of stretching is to increase the flexibility or range of motion of a joint. This is a good thing, no argument there.
I think the strategy of using stretching to increase range of motion for golfers is flawed.
Stretching is for Muscles not Joints
Muscles are the target when we stretch. Get into a hamstring stretch and you can usually feel those puppies light up.
Muscles are just one influence on joint range of motion. Limited range of motion could also be due to fascia, motor control, connective tissue, structure, strength, posture, previous injury, etc.
You probably don’t actually know why your mobility is restricted. I just provided 7 additional reasons for why a joint may be losing range of motion. Without a good assessment and some trial and error we cannot assume the muscle is short.
Most of the time muscles are not short and one of the other issues must be addressed first.
Mobility Requires Movement
Mobility is the ability to move. Move.
Stretching is the exact opposite of movement. We passively pull on a muscle until we usually get bored. Stretching actually decreases force production after you do it.
The transfer of stretching to mobility is questionable. I have seen plenty of athletes that can touch their toes with ease (passive), but cannot hinge their hips (movement).
It is good to know if the range of motion is even their in the first place. That would prevent a strategy that tries to force ranges of motion that are not available. Unfortunately, that is exactly what stretching becomes when not properly utilized.
Instead of sitting there holding a position, we should focus on movement. The goal should be to actually move through good range of motion.
This is the exact requirement of the golf swing. If you cannot move your body into the back and down swing, then can you exactly do?
There are many people who have good passive flexibility but cannot put it together in the swing. That is the area we need to bridge.
Why Do We Even Opt to Stretch?
I think people stretch because they think they’re supposed to. They aren’t listening to the ranting blog posts saying to do otherwise. There are plenty of resources about optimal training for golf but there is not enough exposure to it.
I also don’t want to discount the immediate feeling of looseness post stretching. That can obviously bring people back because it makes them feel good. Again, its not a bad thing but a flawed strategy.
Whether you should stretch or not really depends on what you would like to get from it. Some people want to improve their shoulder turn in the back swing. Well, you cannot safely stretch out your spine so I guess that is out.
Golfers need more strength training and mobility reinforcement. Strength training helps improve range of motion just as well, if not better, than stretching. The bonus is that you also get increased strength, stability, power, and resiliency.
That right there is a big pro when I am weighing options for my programs. When we are looking at the benefits of anything in our training, the more we get the more important that training quality is going to be.
Stretching has one benefit that might not even transfer to the swing. Mobility and strength definitely will. Opt for the most beneficial qualities.