The benefits of pre-exercise stretching have been questioned in recent years. The controversy stems from findings that static stretching temporarily impairs a muscles capacity to produce force rapidly. Although this might not be problematic for low intensity exercise, individuals participating in vigorous athletics may experience an increased risk of injury following a static stretching warm-up.
Golf is not often perceived as a vigorous sport. However, the golf swing is considered one of the most vigorous movements performed in all athletics, generating extraordinarily high amounts of force. Because the golf swing requires an optimal range of motion through the shoulders, hips, and spine many golfers have taken to stretching before competition to “loosen-up.” Unfortunately, this may be placing them at high risk of injury, and now researchers suggest it might impair performance as well.
Researchers at Austin State University compared the effects of static and dynamic warm-up on a variety of golf measures: club-head speed, drive distance, drive accuracy, and consistency of ball contact. Fifteen young male golfers with a handicap of 5 or lower performed a dynamic warm-up, and static stretching followed by a dynamic warm-up. The dynamic warm-up consisted of 10 swings with a Momentus training club, followed by 15 full-swings with a golf club progressing from lighter to heavier clubs. The static stretching protocol included 20-minutes of golf-specific stretch es held for 10 seconds each, repeated 3 times bilaterally.
Following the warm-ups participants hit 10 balls with a driver at a driving range, with 1 minute recoveries between shots. Following the static stretching protocol, participants had reduced club-head speed and consequently hit for shorter distances. In addition, accuracy was reduced by >30%, and ball contact consistency was down >15%.
This study supports the progressive philosophy of a dynamic warm-up protocol. However, the researcher suggests that static stretching may remain useful away from the range or golf course to improve golf-specific flexibility.
Gergley, Jeffrey C. (2009) Acute Effects of Passive Stretching During Warm-up on Driver Clubhead Speed, Distance, Accuracy, and Consistent Ball Contact in Young Male Competitive Golfers. JSCR. 23(3): 863-867.