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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT

Golfing Stretches, Part 2

Stretching the lower body muscle groups associated with a golf swing

Last time, I explored the upper body musculature associated with golfing.  This time, I explore lower body stretches.  These muscles are bigger and more powerful; meaning they can take more abuse, but are also easier to stretch than smaller groups.  Take the time before and after your golfing outings to stretch - it'll be five minutes well spent!

Latissimus Dorsi ("Lat")

The Lats are actually huge muscles that run from the inside of the arm, down the side of the body, attaching at about the lower back and pelvis. Despite the fact that they're critical for posture and extremely easy to stretch, we don't stop to stretch them that often. This is probably the most aggravated muscle I see in golfers - take lots of time to stretch it completely before and after your game.

To Stretch the Lats:

Standing up straight, with your stomach pulled in, raise one arm up toward the ceiling, as if you were trying to touch it with your fingertips. Keeping that arm up, tilt your entire body toward the other side, tipping over as completely as you can. You can use your other arm to hold on to something if that helps with balance. Tip to the side until you feel the stretch not just under your arm, but in your lower back as well.

 

Gluteal Group

The glutes are responsible for supporting the body and twisting the legs during a golf swing. You many not feel them burning or being used the same as when doing squats, but they are activated and need to be stretched.

To Stretch the Glutes:

The posterior hip is actually a very complicated area, and I've written many other posts about stretching them more completely. But for the sake of ease, this stretch is the main one. Raise up one knee and rotate your leg so your heel is pointing out. Firmly take hold of your knee and ankle with your hands. Pull your lower leg toward your chest, keeping your lower leg straight and perpendicular to your body. The closer to can get to your chest, the better the stretch.

 

Calf and Foot

The calf and foot are along for the ride at the end of the golf swing. Keeping them limber is a challenge; they're being used every time we take a step. I've explored many other calf stretches, but this ankle circle is my favorite for mobility.

To Stretch the Calf and Foot:

Reach one foot out in front of your body, toes pointed. Keeping the leg straight, draw a circle using your toes. You want to try to keep the ankle as still as possible, drawing as large a circle as you can possibly reach. Make a circle slowly in one direction, then reverse it and draw a circle in the other direction. Spend plenty of time with this - if you notice a spot that you cannot move toward, pause and intend to move toward that spot more. Flexibility comes with time, and attempting movements. Keep at it!

And if all these stretches simply aren't enough, it's time to book a massage therapy session. I'll see you in my Westport office!

Golfing Stretches, Part 1

Upper body stretches to help golfers stay limber

Despite the fact that golfing isn't a sport where we actually sweat, the movements used in actually swinging a golf club are quite coordinated and complex. I've seen many clients with pain after a long weekend of golfing, and while I'm completely in favor of an outdoor activity that we enjoy, I don't think we should suffer because of it.

My next two entries will explore stretching the major muscle groups involved in golfing. If you notice any pain in a particular group, feel free to comment below or ask me about it during your next massage therapy session. I've actually never golfed (unless putt-putt counts), so these are all just my educated guesses! I believe that these stretches, performed before and after you hit the links, should help maintain flexibility and decrease pain. Here's hoping for more eagles!

Neck

Turning your neck to one side, especially while moving the arms, uses both the lateral (side) neck muscles and the large trapezius ("Trap") muscle.

To Stretch the Neck: Gently turn your head to one side, pointing your chin up. Hold on to the top of your head with your opposite hand, and gently pull your ear to shoulder. They won't touch, but bringing them closer to touching is the goal. Play with moving your chin in different directions in order to engage different neck muscles.

To Stretch the Trap: Seated in a chair, grasp the bottom of the seat with your hand. Tilt your head to the opposite side, letting it pull your body, but keeping the grasping arm holding the chair tightly. Try to let your neck and upper arm pull away from each other gently, creating space in the side of your neck.

 

Deltoid

The deltoid wraps around your entire upper arm. Every part of it is used while golfing, but the easiest part to stretch is the anterior (front) of the muscle.

To Stretch the Anterior Deltoid:

Stand perpendicular to a wall. Reach the arm closest to the wall behind yourself, and place it up against the wall, palm down. Slowly and gently rotate your wrist down, so that your palm is facing out. You can angle your arm up slightly to increase the stretch. Try to keep your entire arm and shoulder pressed against the wall with your body perfectly perpendicular to get the most benefit from the stretch.

Rotator Cuff Group

This is actually a group of four muscles; they perform a similar function and are therefore grouped together. They're easy to stretch, but many people perform the stretch less than ideally.

To Stretch the Rotator Cuff Group: Raise one arm to the level of your collarbone and bring it close to your body. Hook your other arm above the elbow and use that arm to gently pull the first arm closer to your body. It's important to keep the arm at the level of the collarbone, and pull above the elbow. You should feel a stretch in the back of the shoulder, affecting this group.

Wrist Extensors

These are the muscles that move your fingers and wrist, but for the sake of a golf swing, they grip. Often, overly tight extensors can cause elbow pain. Even if you're not experiencing that, it's a good idea to keep this muscle group limber.

To Stretch the Extensors:

Hold your arm out in front of your body, at shoulder height, with your elbow locked. Rotate your arm so your palm is facing away from yourself. With your other hand, grasp your fingers and gently pull them back as a unit, toward yourself. You should feel the stretch not just in your fingers and hand, but in the back of your arm, all the way up to your elbow. Practice this one as often as possible!

And if all these stretches simply aren't enough, it's time to book a massage therapy session. I'll see you in my Westport office!

Ankle Circles

Many clients schedule appointments in my office because of "calf pain." While the lower leg ("calf" doesn't have a large number of muscles, it is a very mobile area (we use it while we walk and even activate it often while we're laying down). Since strengthening the calf and ankle is often counterintuitive to pain, this stretch will explore increasing ankle agility, which can often result in a feeling of decreased pain. While this won't replicate the muscle release we feel during massage therapy, it's a wonderful practice to maintain ankle and lower leg health.

Anatomy Lesson:

I won't list all the lower leg muscles in this post, but rather just show this image of the back and front of the lower leg. The pink areas in the image are muscles; the light pink and white areas are tendons and ligaments. Tendons attach a muscle to a bone, and ligaments attach a bone to a bone. As you can see, your ankle and foot have quite a number of tendons and ligaments. Keeping these limber and soft with movement is a way to not only avoid future injury, but also move the lower leg muscles through their entire ranges of motion, rather than the simple step/push-off motion we use when we take a step.

When that single motion is only ever used, the lower leg can get into a habit of only using one or two muscles as we walk, when it should be using all of them.

The motions of the ankle are named as follows, and the degrees listed are typical ranges of motion (while sitting):

    • Toes pointed up: "Dorsiflexion" - 15-20 degrees
    • Toes pointed down: "Plantarflexion" - 30-50 degrees
    • Toes pointed out: "Eversion" - 15-20 degrees
    • Toes pointed in: "Inversion" - 30-50 degrees

I'm listing the ranges of motion so you don't try to push your ankle too far while performing this stretch; plantarflexion and inversion have the most motion, while dorsiflexion and eversion don't have much motion at all. DON'T FORCE YOUR JOINT BEYOND COMFORT.

The Stretch:

Keep the title of this movement in mind while you're doing it: "ANKLE CIRCLES." Very simply, you're moving the toes in as big a circle as you can, while keeping the ankle and lower leg completely still. Try to imagine drawing a circle in the air with your big toe.

While sitting, begin by pointing your toes down (plantarflexion). Try to keep your toes relaxed, and slowly move the foot into eversion, pointing the toes out. Keep moving in a circle to dorsiflexion (pointing up), and finally inversion (pointing in). You're only drawing as big a circle as possible with your toes, which sounds really easy, but is actually quite challenging!

When you've drawn a smooth circle in one direction, reverse it, starting in dorsiflexion, moving to inversion, plantarflexion, eversion and ending at dorsiflexion again.

If you notice tension or pain at any point while you're making the circles, pause for a moment and hold that position. You should notice the tension release when you give that area extra attention.

You can perform this motion one foot at a time to start, then both feet together when you get the hang of it. You will likely notice that your feet are not identical in motion - this is completely normal. Just as feet can be different sizes, they can have different ranges of motion. You can try to make them a little more even by performing a few more circles on the foot that has less range of motion, and by doing your ankle circles more frequently.

I perform this stretch constantly - I mean, while, I'm sitting in my office waiting for clients, under a desk, or under the table while I'm eating! As long as you respect your ranges of motion, you really can't overdo it.

While this stretch won't mimic the results of a massage therapy session, it can certainly aid you in keeping your ankles supple. So when you're ready for your calves to really be loosened, make an appointment in my Westport office. In the meantime, draw those circles!

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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT