You just had your best round of golf ever. You high five everyone on the way to the locker-room, you quickly shower and change clothing, toss your gear into your trunk and head out. You make a quick stop at the store and pick up a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk and then return home. You come in, put the groceries away and then fall into your recliner chair and take what you think is a well-earned nap. An hour later, you wake and begin to stand up, only to realize that you are so sore you can barely move. Thinking back, you try to figure out what could have caused this amount of pain and wonder- could this be from golf?
If you did not stretch after golf, the likelihood is very likely. For your next golf game, make sure that you stretch before hand to prevent injuries during, and then keep in mind some exercises for afterward for the same reason. These should not be full on, heavy-duty exercises, you did just play golf after all, but should stretch and release the lactic acid that builds in your muscles when they work hard. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, golf is hard work and you will feel it if you do not take the necessary precautions.
If you have a regular yoga practice, you can use that as your post-golf exercise routine, but it you do not, then you can use some very simple stretches and moderate yoga poses to relax and release your most worked muscles.
To release tension and muscle strain in your shoulders and upper back:
Downward facing dog: Long considered one of the very best shoulder stretches in yoga, down dog is easy to learn and feels amazing once you master it. Start with your feet about shoulder’s width apart, and place the palms of your hand on the floor, under your shoulders. If you have tight hamstrings, you will have to modify by either using a pillow beneath your hand, or by bending your knees slightly. Your aim will be to be in the pose with straight legs. Keep your breath even and natural, and imagine your tailbone pointing toward the ceiling. To come back out of the pose, walk your hands back toward your legs and then straighten up.
To release your hamstrings and upper thighs:
Lie on your back and bend your left knee. Cross your right leg over the left knee and then slide your hands around the bent knee- your legs should resemble a figure four. Pull your bent knee toward your chest until you feel the stretch, stopping before there is any sensation of pain. Hold for several seconds, and then release and switch legs.
To release your calf muscles:
Step up on a ledge or the edge of a rolled towel, or small pillow. Come way up onto your toes and hold, feeling the calf muscles contract fully. Hold the position for several seconds and then release, feeling those muscles relax. Repeat several times.
To release your ankles:
Sit on a chair, sliding forward until your feet can plant firmly and flatly on the ground. Using a tennis ball, roll the ball under your right foot, drawing each letter of the alphabet on the floor. Repeat with left foot. (This will also work your feet and feels terrific.)
One final lower body stretch:
Sit on your bottom, placing the soles of your feet together in front of you. Holding onto the outer edge of your feet with the palms of your hands, imagine that your legs are the wings of a graceful butterfly, and flap up and down several times. Do not concern yourself with how big the movement is, nor with how close to the ground you can get your legs at first. Eventually, you will be able to get your legs flat to the floor without strain or pain. Do not force it, just let your body work itself into it slowly.