Can you touch your toes with your legs straight? Are you chopping at golf balls? While sitting on the floor, can you spread your legs out 120 degrees? If not, you may be DANGEROUSLY INFLEXIBLE! One of the hottest topics in golf today is flexibility. Everyone loses flexibility as they age regardless of lifestyle. With proper stretching this process can be slowed down. Some people are simply genetically inflexible. It’s estimated the majority of “lower back” problems can be attributed to tight hamstrings. According to Butch Harmon, “Flexibility and having or improving range of motion is the most important physical attribute to focus on for any level golfer.” Harmon also states, “By increasing one’s flexibility their club head speed will automatically increase. For the aging golfer, an improved range of motion will help regain their full fluid swing. They will not lapse into punching the ball that almost always follows the loss of flexibility due to age. “
Most golfers have enough strength to swing a golf club. Even though strength is important, it is usually the lack of flexibility that inhibits most golfers from performing a full fluid back swing, which allows them to create greater club head speed and finish with a full follow through. Improved flexibility will help your swing stay “on line” and you will get maximum benefit from your hips and shoulders, not just your arms.
The ProFlex stretching machine, used at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, was developed to keep stretching simple, effective, and address the three critical components that must be present for maximum results. 1. It keeps the user in the correct “biomechanic” position. 2. It allows the user to remain relaxed, a requirement for proper and safe stretching 3. It measures your improvement. Golf Digest gave it their highest rating and Sports Illustrated rated it the #3 new golf product. Tom Kite and many other tour professionals are now using the ProFlex in their training programs. Upon using the machine for the first time, Tom Kite stated, “this is the golf swing.” Dr. Bob Rotella stated that it is essential to relax while stretching. The ProFlex accomplishes this task.
Trying to improve flexibility and range-of-motion can be extremely frustrating, which is one of the main reasons why many people don’t stretch. There are several important elements of proper stretching; however there are three critical factors in realizing fast and consistent results. All experts agree that a proper warm-up prior to stretching is critical; therefore, the three areas discussed in this article are in addition to warming up.
#1. MEASURE PROGRESS DURING AND AFTER STRETCHING
Basic psychology states that humans react much better when progress can be quantified. Anytime a goal can be set and backed up with measured results, people will tend to stick with and progress within that system. Regardless if it’s an individual trying to become more flexible, a physical therapist or a coach wanting improved flexibility, it’s critical to be able to set and achieve goals with measured results. There’s a big difference in “perceived results” and “proven results”.
#2. PROPER TECHNIQUE WHILE STRETCHING
Most people have no idea how to stretch properly, especially static stretching (holding the stretch). Correct posture or spine angle is extremely important due to the fact that if the low back is rounded (poor posture), it’s very difficult to safely and effectively isolate the targeted muscles. The majority of people when stretching, round their lower back when sitting on the floor, which puts great stress on the low back, causes tension, in addition to causing poor isolation on the target areas.
#3. RELAXATION WHILE STRETCHING
Relaxation is paramount in trying to become flexible. This is the main factor in the benefits of partner or assisted stretching. Bottom line is that the target muscles must be relaxed (opposite of contraction) in order to realize the benefits of static stretching and most people are tense during their stretch.
Over the years there has been growing controversy regarding the different types of stretching methods and if any actually help increase athletic performance. It’s difficult to prove scientifically however if you ask most “world-class” strength and conditioning experts most agree that enhanced flexibility has a definite impact on many areas of athletic performance. The benefits are vast and only a couple will be covered in this article.
The two topics (benefits) discussed here are speed and injury prevention and how stretching to increase flexibility has a direct impact on both. Where is concerned, it makes since that a person’s range of motion would have a direct impact regarding increased or enhanced physical efficiency. Injury prevention is yet another area where it’s agreed, yet hard to prove that enhanced flexibility is beneficial.
There are different beliefs regarding when to stretch as it relates to speed, however, it’s basic physics that support increased flexibility and range of motion will increase speed. A law of physics states that by decreasing friction between two moving parts, the outcome is increased speed1 As a person increases flexibility, it allows them to relax. Relaxation in an athletic movement decreases friction which in return increases speed during the athletic movement. In essence as a person becomes more flexible they should be able to increase speed.
Injury prevention is again, difficult to prove, however it makes since that as a person’s range of motion increases, there’s less stress on the body when performing a specific movement. An example being that if during physical activity, a person is suddenly required to move beyond his or her range of motion, they can be easily injured. Even though this knowledge seems basic, it’s amazing how people argue that stretching and increasing flexibility has little impact on injury prevention.
The American Council on Exercise states that flexibility training is oftem neglected. This neglect is regrettable, because flexibility training:
· Allows greater freedom of movement and improved posture
· Increases physical and mental relaxation
· Releases muscle tension and soreness
· Reduces risk of injury
Some people are naturally more flexible. Flexibility is primarily due to one’s genetics, gender, age and level of physical activity. As we grow older, we tend to lose flexibility, usually as a result of inactivity rather than the aging process itself.
The less active we are, the less flexible we are likely to be. As with cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength, flexibility will improve with regular training.
Stretch for success
Before stretching, take a few minutes to warm up as stretching cold muscles can cause injury. Begin with a simple, low-intensity warm-up, such as easy walking while swinging the arms in a wide circle. Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes warming up prior to stretching.
When performing any stretch:
· Start each stretch slowly, exhaling as you gently stretch the muscle.
· Try to hold each stretch for at least 10 to 30 seconds.
Avoid these stretching mistakes:
· Don’t bounce a stretch. Holding a stretch is more effective and there is less risk of injury.
· Don’t stretch a muscle that is not warmed up.
· Don’t strain or push a muscle too far. If a stretch hurts, ease up.
· Don’t hold your breath.
As you can see, there are many benefits to stretching and by stretching on a regular basis, enhanced physical efficiency is one of them.
For more information on the ProFlex stretching machine call 1-866-776-3539.
“Parade’s Guide To Better Fitness”
By Michael O’Shea
What do you think of the Stretching that pro golfers are using?
The machine to which you are referring is the ProFlex. It helps the user to stretch most of the major muscles in the body through six different positions while increasing upper- and lower-body flexibility. Initially developed for martial-arts students by Joe Lewis, a world heavyweight champion in karate, and David Dise, the stretching machine has become popular among professional golfers.
In fact, the ProFlex is used in the PGA Tour’s fitness trailer. And many pro’s, including Tom Kite and Jack Nicklaus, use it in their home gyms. Butch Harmon, Tiger Woods’ coach uses the machine in his golf school. He told me: “if you look at the long hitters of today, the make very little hip turn on their backswing and a huge shoulder turn. This is not possible without good flexibility. Where once you might have had a full fluid swing, as you age you lapse into just punching the ball. This machine can help you maximize your physical potential as a golf athlete”.
Joe Lewis noted, “The ProFlex can help to eliminate a lot of the injuries that result when people try to improve flexibility on their own, because it insures proper position”. To learn more about the ProFlex call 1-866-Proflex or visit the web at www.proflexstretch.com.
Michael O’Shea, PhD., Is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine
Do you often lunge at the golf ball instead of making a smooth swing? If you fit this profile, you may be seriously inflexible!
As we age, a loss of flexibility always comes with the territory, which leads to a decreased range of motion. With a proper stretching routine, this debilitating process can be slowed down, stopped and even reversed. In golf, as in life, flexibility and range of motion are vital to performance. According to Butch Harmon, coach of Tiger Woods, “Flexibility and having or improving range of motion is the most important physical attribute to focus on for any level golfer. By increasing one’s flexibility, club head speed will automatically increase. For the aging golfer, an improved range of motion will help regain a full, fluid swing.”
Though strength is important, a lack of flexibility prevents most golfers from making a long, fluid backswing. That same tightness inhibits club head speed and a full finish. Improved flexibility will help your swing stay on plane and achieve the maximum benefit from hip and shoulder turn. But is it possible to turn back the clock? The answer is yes using the ProFlex Stretch machine! The ProFlex, which is used at the Butch Harmon School of Golf and, according to the company, by Tour players including tom kite, Brad Faxon, Jim Dent, Bobby Wadkins and Jack Nicklaus, addresses the three critical components to achieving maximum flexibility results:
It keeps the user in the correct biomechanical position, which leads to proper technique / posture during stretching.
It allows the user to remain relaxed, a requirement to optimize safe and proper stretching of the muscles.
It measures and quantifies improvement. People often quit training programs without a way to measure results. Players and teaching professionals can now set and achieve numerical goals for increasing range of motion.
Many professional athletes and sports organizations are currently using the ProFlex. Trainers for the NFL teams including the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals have purchased ProFlex units. Brett Favre has one at his house. Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, four-time super bowl quarterback for the Buffalo Bills adds “the ProFlex is incredible for keeping you fit and flexible. I compare the ProFlex’s advantage over conventional stretching to moving from jogging in place to using a treadmill”. The ProFlex has also been used in the PGA tour fitness trailer.
Dr. Bob Rotella, noted mental game coach to a multitude of leading tour players states that, “I believe that all good golfers and top instructors understand the importance of good flexibility relating to the golf swing. The ProFlex not only safely and effectively improves flexibility for range of motion, it also allows the user relax and decrease muscular tension. A relaxed body will help insure a relaxed mind and eliminate counterproductive thoughts. In addition to mental and physical relaxation, the confidence gained through the measured flexibility improvements will have a very positive impact on any athlete…especially the golfer”.
The response from the medical and health / fitness communities has been extraordinary. In correspondence from Dr. Louis Biglian, Chairman of the Department Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, he states, “The beauty of your machine is that it is something that can be done rapidly without a great deal of effort. Furthermore, it provides a very reasonable stretch to muscles and tendons, which, in fact never stretch, despite whatever type of exercise, massage or physical therapy you might have. Being able to stretch the groin area as well as the hamstrings and thoracic cage muscles allows you to loosen up quickly for golf.” Stephen Tharrett (M.S. Exercise Physiology and Program Director for the American College of Sports Medicine) adds that, The ProFlex and assures the user of proper biomechanical positioning in performing correct, effective stretches relating to posture and daily function.”
GOLF SPECIFIC STRETCHES
Although designed to work for athletes in many sports, ProFlex has come up with a safe and effective six-step, golf-specific stretching routine. The simple, easy to follow routine is designed to target every major muscle group in the body. The initial stretch focuses on the address position and works on support of the upper body. The center leg stretch will put the body in a better position at impact. The final stretches work on the legs to promote a better take away and follow through. According to the company, tight hamstrings cause lower back pain and fatigue during the latter stages of a round of golf. The final stretches work to loosen the hamstrings.
Each machine comes with how-to video and printed stretching instructions. Each stretch should be held for fifteen seconds, a very brief rest, and then held for fifteen more seconds. The entire program takes just five or ten minutes to work though and it is recommended that it be done a minimum of three times per week. Your personal success will depend on the effort you put in.
Though mechanically challenged, I was able to assemble the unit in a matter of minutes. I first saw the ProFlex at a golf industry convention at Mid Pines, North Carolina. A devout believer and practitioner of yoga and stretching, I was immediately impressed with its performance. It allowed me to get and stay in Positions that I had difficulty with in my yoga practice, which, in my case, dealt with my thighs and hamstrings. In the first week alone, I extended my range of motion a full fifteen degrees.
MAJOR SUCCESS ON TOUR
Senior Tour winner Bobby Wadkins has two claims of fame. He is Lanny’s brother and he won more money on the regular PGA Tour than anyone in history without a win. But after he began working with the ProFlex, he won his debut on the Senior Tour. Gushing he says, “I started using the ProFlex about a year prior to winning my first Senior event title. It definitely improved my flexibility and range of motion, and has helped me to once again compete at the highest level of competition.”
ProFlex has received extensive national coverage and commanded rave reviews. Among other publications, features on the unit have been included in Parade Magazine, Links, Golf Digest, Golf Tips and Sports Illustrated. In April 2000, Golf Digest gave the ProFlex a “Birdie” Rating. SI ranked it as the “#3” new golf product in the December 18, 2000 issue. Referring to the ProFlex, former US Open champion Tom Kite actually says, “This is the golf swing.”
For more information on the ProFlex stretching machine call 1-866-776-3539.