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Strength and Mobility Exercises for Golfers

The golf swing is a complex movement that requires both strength and mobility through the neck, shoulders, low back and hips. While we can’t completely eliminate the risk of injury, maintaining strong muscles and healthy joints can help reduce the likelihood that significant injury occurs.

Stretches

  • 3 sets of 30 second holds

    • Take your arm and cross it over your chest
    • Use the opposite hand to pull your arm closer to your chest
    Cross body adduction stretch
  • 2 sets of 20 repetitions

    • Kneel with your arms straight and one arm positioned against the wall
    • Turn your trunk and opposite arm away from the wall as far as you can then return to the start
    Half kneel open book stretch
    Half kneel open book stretch 2
  • 2 sets of 20 repetitions  

    • Lay on your back with your arms out to the side and your heels on the ground
    • Roll your knees off to one side, briefly hold, then roll back to the other side
    Hip rotation mobility stretch
  • 2 sets of 20 repetitions   

    • While on your hands and knees, arch your back towards the ceiling
    • From the arched position, let your belly button sag towards the ground
    Cat cow stretch
    Cat cow stretch 2
  • 3 sets of 30 second holds

    • Stand in a corner with your palms and elbows resting on the wall
    • Let your chest fall towards the corner and hold
    Corner stretch
  • 2 sets of 20 repetitions 

    • Stand with your arms on a table or counter
    • Walk your feet back so that your head drops towards the floor
    Table bows stretch

Download our PDF of these stretches to keep for future use.

Strengthening

  • 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each

    • Start by holding a single band with both hands
    • The band should be anchored up high
    • Bring the band diagonally from one shoulder towards the opposite hip while rotating your trunk
    • Repeat on both sides
    Chops 1
    Chops 2
  • 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each

    • Start by holding a single band with both hands
    • The band should be anchored at chest level
    • Standing parallel to the band, press it forward in a straight line without the hips or shoulders rotating
    • Repeat on both sides
    Antirotation press 1
    Antirotation press 2
  • 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each

    • Start by holding a band in each hand with your arms straight in front of you
    • The band should be anchored at chest level
    • Pull your hands away from each other while you bring your shoulder blades together
    Standing horizontal abduction 1
    Standing_horizontal_abduct_2.jpg
  • 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each

    • Start by holding a band in each hand with your arms straight in front of you
    • The band should be anchored at chest level 
    • With your elbows at your side, rotate your wrists away from each other while pinching your shoulder blades
    Standing bilateral external rotation 1
    Standing bilateral external rotation 2
  • 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each

    • Lay on your back with your knees bent. 
    • Slowly lift your hips off the surface you are on.
    Glute bridge
  • 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each

    • Start on your hands and knees
    • Lift one hand and the opposite knee off of the surface you are on
    • Try to keep your neck and back still while your arms and legs move
    Bird dog

Download our PDF of these strengthening exercises to keep for future use.

Stephen D. Coombs, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS
Sports Medicine Physical Therapist 
Virginia Mason Fransiscan Health 

Please stop performing these exercises if they cause you to develop pain. Always consult an appropriate health care provider when you are suffering from an injury or before starting any type of physical activity.

Get back in the game

Once cleared from spine surgery, these exercises can also be incredibly beneficial in helping you return to play!

In fact, our Virginia Mason Franciscan Health spine team is leading efforts to develop return-to-play (RTP) golf protocols following various spine surgeries.

Given its increasing popularity and increased performance demands, there is growing prevalence of spinal injuries related to golf and more golfers that require spine surgery. Although lumbar decompressive operations constitute the majority of spinal procedures performed, to our knowledge there are no studies specifically examining the outcomes of golfers and their overall ability to RTP after a simple lumbar laminectomy or microdiscectomy procedure. Further, the data on RTP after lumbar fusions, cervical procedures, and spinal deformity reconstructions are all limited. This is an area that is ripe for further investigation.

Further, there is a need for objective data regarding swing biomechanics and the kinetics of muscle activation that may help guide surgeons during the post-operative period to help golfers return to the course more rapidly and lessen the risk of further injury.

Returning to golf after spine surgery

Learn more

Email us at [email protected] to learn more!

Read more about golf-related spinal injuries and outcomes following spinal surgery.

Philip K. Louie, MD
Venu M. Nemani, MD PhD
Orthopaedic spine surgeons

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  • Recent publications
  • Progress of ongoing studies
  • Future research ideas that we are planning
  • Introductions to various team members and students
  • Informing you on opportunities to support our research, mentorship programs and academic events
  • Giving us feedback on our efforts and various studies 
  • Providing you opportunities to ask us questions and learn more about specific areas of our work

We still have so much to learn as we tackle some of the biggest obstacles in spine care and improve how we care for our future patients. Thank you for your ongoing support!