The game of golf can be like a meditative experience. After all, silence or at least whispered voices are encouraged while engaged on the links, and a high degree of preparation and readiness are important ingredients for success. The vast blue sky and uninterrupted greens and trees encourage a oneness with nature. And then there is the hushed silence and concentration required as the player executes their swing from start to finish. Unfortunately, one barrier to the strong and smooth follow-through of that swing is tight hamstrings. Just as in seated meditation, tight hamstrings will break one’s concentration!
Yoga inspired breath and focusing exercises have much to offer the golfer. Stretch and strengthening techniques that will specifically improve the health of the shoulder, leg, core and arm muscles are available through yoga. For now, let’s focus on the role of the hamstrings as applied to golf, particularly on exercises for tight hamstrings.
The primary work of the three muscles that comprise the hamstrings is to flex (bend) the knee, and extend the hip joint. The hamstrings, located in the back of the thigh, are also involved in internal as well as external rotation of the leg. Flexibility in the hamstrings will provide you improved range of motion in the hips. Therefore tightness in this area will limit your range of motion while executing all three phases of the golf swing: back, forward and follow-through.
Westerners spend an inordinate amount of our time sitting. As we eat meals, in school from first grade throughout school, driving or riding in cars, and most likely at work time-our primary posture is seated. Consequently our hamstrings are shortened and inactive in chairs. Try this: loop a rubber band around your thumb and first fingers. Picture the rubber band as your hamstrings. When those fingers are bent (like our knees), the rubber band is lax and limp. When you straighten the fingers, the rubberband is stretched, a position our hamstrings do not typically experience.
The upper hamstrings are attached to the bottom of our pelvic bones, aptly referred to as our “sits” bones. As mentioned earlier, short, inflexible hamstrings can also limit the flexibility of our hips, and through a chain reaction in our bodies, contribute to back pain, another common issue for golfers (well, almost everyone!). The strong and flexible action of your hips and lower back are an essential ingredient for integrated action of the golf swing. Keying in on hamstring flexibility will improve that action.
Achieving Hamstring Flexibility
Steady practice of simple hamstring stretches to increase flexibility is a must for most golfers. It is always preferred to stretch every day, for 5-10 minutes, than to expect results as a “weekend warrior”.
Reclined leg stretches are a tried and true method of opening the hamstrings as well as increasing strength and flexibility of the hips. A yoga strap, or even a men’s necktie can be used to increase the sensation of stretch.
The famous downward facing dog pose can be practiced with hands on the floor or on the wall. Downdog stretches the hamstrings and also provides a wonderful release in the spine.
Ball massage will provide a release of lingering tightness in the back or hamstrings. The Hips and Buttocks Therapy Ball Program available here will specifically guide you in ways to relax the kinks in those muscles.
Increase your hamstring flexibility for a multitude of benefits on the golf course!
Read about Dynamic Stretching.
Check out our Post athletic stretch DVD
Read about Yoga Tune Up and golf.
Great point about those nagging tight hamstrings.
I’ve found that adding some strengthening exercises that focus on eccentric as well as concentric phase training make a big difference in how our hamstrings respond to lengthening. And mobilize those hips.
My friends told me yoga help them improve their game scores. This article explains why it helps. Stretch hamstring is important for golfer and need to be stay 8-10 minutes daily. Waiting for more information for the shoulders, elbows & wrists for golfer.
Great post! I’m opening a Wellness Centre at a Golf Club and half my clients play. I found this very informative and I want to know more. I’ll check out the other links and videos. Do you have anymore articles about golfing? do you know any about tennis?
I’m doing some personal training for my dad right now, an avid golfer. His hamstrings are extremely tight, and i’m definitely going to incorporate some hamstring SMR with Yoga Tune-Up balls to help him loosen up. Thanks for the helpful blog!
Glad this was helpful, everyone! Thanks for reading.
Hamstrings, downdog sounds like something from a menu at a hot dog stand. I love the insightful information that Bonnie had to share about hamstrings and downdog. I’m not a golfer yet, but I can now help my golfer friends with their hamstrings. Great information Bonnie.
My husband recently came home from golfing empowered by his great game. The next day however all he did was complain about his hamstrings. After he pouted and whined for a bit he agreed to try Down Dog at the wall. And in spite of himself, he admitted that it really helped. I even caught him doing it later in the week al by himself!
Too bad i don’t play golf, but interesting blog and this could help me in the future.
Practicing yoga has helped with my golf game. With more length in my muscles and flexibility, I feel like I’ve been able to generate a more consistent swing. In addition, my shoulder rotation has increased, resulting in longer distances with control.
Over the summer, I went to the driving range a few times immediately after yoga. The results were not pretty (fore right!). Is this because the muscles and joints were in different state than what they are normally used to? Towards the end of the season, I went to the range (without going to yoga first) and the swing was back to normal.
great article full of informative information. Downward dog is a great pose to open the hip area and help with flexibility in the hamstrings.. Practicing this stretch will help playing golf!!
This article really help me understand the functioning of my hamstrings. I have trouble bending all the way forward and now I know that is helpful to practice stretching the back of my thigh with a belt or strap. I can’t wait to improve my range of motion in the hips after my hamstrings become more flexible. Then maybe I will be able to tie my shoes without hinging from my poor lower back.
It is so interesting to note how quickly a golfer can show improvements in rotation once the hamstrings are addressed. My husband is a golfer and drives a lot as part of his job. The poses that have been most effective for him have been down dog and the reclined leg stretches.
Thanks for shedding light on the importance of having flexible hamstrings. In addition to Adho Mukha Svanasana, Janu Sirsasana is a great pose that creates an intense stretch of the hamstrings.
Terrific, Amber! My husband is an avid golfer too!
Great post…my entire family and majority of friends are golfers, some even pro. I tried to tell them before and now i have proff!
Down dog is a really important pose. It’s great that you talk about yoga with hamstring issues. My boss, Leeann Carey, is a world-renowned yoga teacher; she suggests that down dog can be modified for tight hamstrings using a chair.