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The unique movements involved in the game of golf often use a number of muscles that may not usually move in specific ways. Among these are the hips, shoulder and neck muscles, and various muscles in the arms and legs. As a result, specially targeted golf stretches are advisable in order to prepare these muscles, before setting out on the course. In addition to helping to prevent injury and general soreness, properly stretched and warmed-up muscles can add yards to one's golf game, and improve accuracy.
Even before doing golf stretches, it is recommended that golfers warm up muscles by walking or lightly jogging for five to ten minutes. Stretching such warmed-up muscles is safer, and produces better results than stretching cold ones. Once body temperature has mildly elevated, effective stretching can begin.
With golf stretches, as with any other kind, there are certain basics to keep in mind. Never stretch to the point of discomfort or pain. Do not bounce while in a stretch. Bouncing between a relaxed position and full stretch is ineffective at best, and, at worst, can actually cause injury. Golf stretches should be done in sets of three or four, at a slow and deliberate pace.
Beginning with the leg muscles, effective golf stretches usually include pulling the knees up to the chest to stretch the hamstrings. Another move is to pull one foot behind the body and towards the buttocks, while standing on the other foot, to stretch the quadriceps. Finally, rolling the ankles slowly in alternating circles will stretch their associated muscles as well.
Moving up the body, the next major area benefited by golf stretches are the hips. Good hip flexibility is crucial for a golf swing, so it pays to stretch out all muscles in that area. A good way to flex the hips is, while sitting, cross the legs and grab the top knee. Gently pull this knee toward the opposite shoulder, and stretch the body's torso in the other direction. This should be repeated, in reverse, to stretch both hips.
There are two good ways to stretch out the shoulders, upper arms, and upper back. First, grab an elbow with the opposite hand, and pull it tight across the chest; then repeat on the other side. Secondly, with the head and neck straight, grab an elbow again, but this time bring it behind the head, so that the upper arm is pointing straight up in the air, with the forearm is hanging down behind the head. It is important that, in all movements, any pulling is done slowly and gently, and only far enough to feel the muscles stretching.