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By Donald Crawley, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
5 Easy stretches in 5 minutes to improve your turn

See your swing get stronger with the five exercises below.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I am entering my 38th year as a golf professional and qualify to play in senior events as a pro (50+), but haven't made the age yet for amateur senior tournament play (55+). So, although I am on the far curve of 50, a lot of my regular students have 25 years on me. Regardless of your age, each day we all get one day older, and your body lets you know that.some days more than others.

Those that have stayed in shape, exercise regularly, follow a healthy lifestyle, can play golf well into their nineties provided you get a little grace from our Creator. Tom Watson almost won a major, one hard bounce away from his sixth British Open, a couple of years ago at the ripe, but still young by today's standards, age of 59.9. The majority of my members, whom I teach a great deal, are in their seventies, some in their eighties, and two of my favorites are 90 plus and still taking lessons!! What an awesome attitude with a desire to improve or, at least, maintain a reasonable game.

We are not talking about competing at a professional level; we are talking about playing golf to the best of our 39, 59 or 99!

This article is for everyone, even the diehard who attends yoga every morning, swims during lunch hour, lifts weights in the evening, and looks like a chiseled sculpture. This is mostly for the busy mom or dad, office/travel warrior or a person of senior age who would like to increase his or her flexibility and build a little more golf swing strength.

1: Improve your 'shoulder turn.' It's actually a lot more than turning your shoulders; it is a torso rotation that you are looking for. Let's start easy and gentle. Sit upright in your chair as you read. Try to get your spine a straight as possible. Chin up. Suck your navel in to your backbone . okay, as far as you can without calling 911 to put you back together. This static pose is strengthening all the little muscles in your upper trunk, especially your abdominal and lower back. Inhale as you draw your navel in, exhale slowly as you count - one, two, three, four, and five, without slumping your shoulders. Repeat five times. Control your breathing whilst you do the stretch.

2: In the same posture - back straight, chin up, navel in - put your right hand on the top of your head, resting above your left ear. Very gently, pull your head slowly to the right, as if your right ear is going to rest on your right shoulder. You will feel a gentle stretch of the left side of your neck. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds and breathe through it. Easy as she blows .. 3 times on each side. Seafarers will understand that better than the rest but do it the way I have described and suggested.

3: Stay in this erect posture. Straight back, chin up, navel in. Looking straight ahead, pull your shoulder blades back together, trying to get them to touch. Not about to happen so do not keep the chiropractor on hold - just do what you can as the exercise. You will feel your chest pectoral muscles stretch. Hold, pause, exhale for a count of five and breathe. Relax. Repeat five times.

At this point you have warmed up or, as a physical therapist may tell you, you have awakened your muscles. Now it is time to get out of that chair. Stand erect but in posture 1. Chin up back straight, navel in. Golf stance, feet shoulder width apart. Tip forward from the hips until your arms hang directly over your toes. Flex your knees until your weight is balance across your feet, even from heels to toes. Yes, you've got it - you are now in the correct golf swing posture.

4: Cross your arms over your chest, right palm resting on your left "pec," left palm resting on your right "pec." This is what I call the praying angel. You are standing in the correct golf posture, ready to swing without arms. Look at a spot on the carpet, looking at the invisible ball. Put down a coin if you need an imaginary ball. Look at it. With your arms pressing against your chest, ROTATE your upper body, starting with your chest, feeling your abdomen, then hips following, until (as the yoga instructor says) 'you reach your edge.' That edge is when your head wants to start to follow the turn. STOP! That is your limit of turn. Don't let your eyes wander or your head turn. Pause, hold the edge, and breathe through the stretch for five seconds. Relax, return, and repeat five times.

If you don't feel the stretch in your chest, back, and right hip and buttock, you are not doing it correctly. Your legs should be holding you in a stable position, maintaining the slight flex with which you started.

To elaborate further, a lot of you may be so tight in your hips so you will not be able to rotate your upper body without your lower body caving in, and the legs crumbling. Hence, we need the fifth stretch to increase your flexibility in your hamstrings and hips, allowing you to better achieve stretch 4.

5: Back to standing erect posture but, this time, bend at the hips until your arms, shoulders and head weight hang as low as you can, or as much as your back allows. In this hanging position let your chin come to your chest. When your hamstrings, the backs of your legs, are screaming, stop, and just hang like a rag doll. Hang and hold, breathe through for five seconds. When you start back up, bend your knees and pull up your shoulders - do not pull up by the back.

As you get better at stretch 5 you will see a huge improvement in stretch 4, which is the 'shoulder turn' you've been seeking, probably for years. At this point it is worth mentioning that physical therapy research shows that the chest, not any other muscle group, is used the most both on the back and forward swing of the golf swing.

These 5 easy stretches will improve your posture, strengthen your core, and increase your shoulder turn, which I call torso rotation. Invest five minutes of these 5 easy stretches, whenever you can, wherever you are, and see your swing get stronger and then watch the ball fly longer!

Recently voted Top-10 in Best Teachers in State of Arizona by Golf Digest. Also, contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

When Scottsdale beckons and golf awaits, a call to Donald Crawley at The Boulders is a must.

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 35 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 & 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

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