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

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!

Guilt-Free Chocolate Granola

I admit it - I have a chocolate problem. A day doesn't feel complete unless I've tasted a little cocoa. But all the butter and sugar typically involved in the candy doesn't make me feel very well; and it's certainly not good long-term. Enter this granola: It's gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. BUT it has a chocolate taste I can definitely rally around. You can add a few fresh or dried berries to freshen it up and kick up the health factor even more. I like it served with a little non-dairy milk or yogurt for breakfast, or just eaten out of the container with my hands!

 

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, not quick-cooking)

1 1/2 cups mixed nuts (I use walnuts, sliced almonds and hazelnuts, but use your favorites)

1/4 cup canola oil (or coconut oil, melted)

1/2 cup agave

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

1 egg white

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300F. Prepare a baking tray with either parchment paper or a non-stick silpat liner.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats and nuts.

 

In a small glass measuring container, measure out the oil, agave, vanilla, cocoa powder and pinch of salt, *but don't mix them yet*.

 

In a small, non-reactive bowl (such as copper, glass or metal), place the egg white. Using an electric whisk (or just your own arm strength), whip the egg white to a hard peak. It should be very voluminous and stand on the edge of the whisk when you pick it up.

Then, using the same whisk, thoroughly combine the cocoa mixture. (You cannot attempt to whisk the egg white with any fat on the whisk; it'll never whip. But using the same whisk to mix the cocoa and oil is perfectly fine.)

 

 

Add the cocoa mixture to the oats and nuts and toss to combine completely. There should be no oats or nuts that aren't covered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gently fold in the egg white, being careful not to deflate it, and leaving plenty of "opaqueness" on the oats. That is, you should be able to see the dark brown of the chocolate, but see the egg whites laying on top of it, a little bit like frost on your windshield.

Carefully lay the oat mixture on to the prepared baking sheet in a single layer, being careful not to push the egg whites down too much.

Bake for about 60 minutes (no need to toss the mixture.) It's done when the edges turn brown and crisp. Cool completely before eating; it will harden and crisp fully as it cools.

Enjoy with milk, yogurt, berries, or just with your hands!

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