If you still think static stretching is the best way to warm up before a training session or a round of golf, this blog's for you. Static stretching, while often linked to injury prevention, can actually do more harm than good. Recent studies show that static stretching can decrease your vertical thrust power (highly important for those of you looking to sprint faster or hit the golf ball farther). In addition to impairing athletic performance, studies also prove that static stretching does little to warm up your muscles or break down painful adhesions. As a client of mine put it the other day, if you have a knot, pulling on both sides of the string is only going to make the knot tighter.
Those of you who train with me know that I often choose dynamic stretches over static ones, such as the Feldenkrais method and other mobilization techniques using ropes and swiss balls. But the easiest way to get your muscle tissue warm and limber is to use a foam roller.
Foam rolling is an easy and effective way to improve your athletic performance and reduce your risk of injury. It has been proven to improve circulation, increase blood flow, break down adhesions within muscles (just like a massage), release muscle tightness and reduce pain. Many of my golf clients have seen drastic improvements in their swing simply by adding foam rolling to their workout programs. How? Foam rolling has been proven to increase your range of motion in just a few seconds, allowing you to get more rotation in your thoracic spine in your backswing, or more mobility in your hips in the downswing. Not a golfer? Having a supple, warm body is essential to preventing injury in any activity, whether you're jumping rope, gardening or playing with your grandchildren.
Here are my favorite mobilization tools:
A client recently introduced me to The Orb. Not for the faint of heart, The Orb will release your psoas and break down tightness in your glutes like no other.
And a fantastic book that I can't wait finish: Becoming A Supple Leopard. Sign me up.
Finally, here's a great video by Titleist Advisory Board member Robert Yang with some foam rolling techniques and tips.