It is commonly believed that properly conducted warm ups reduce the risk of injury in golfers ('Preventing Injuries to Competitive and Recreational Adult Golfers: What Is the Evidence?' Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports, vol. 3, pp. 65-78, 2000). However, the current warm up habits of golfers are poorly understood. Do most golfers do enough warming up to improve performance and lower the risk of injury?
To find out, researchers from the Sports-Injury Prevention Research Unit at Deakin University in Burwood, Australia recently observed 1040 golfers (852 men and 188 women) over a three-week period at three different venues - a private golf course, a public course, and a driving range. The golfers' warm up behaviours were meticulously recorded ('Warm Up Practices of Golfers: Are They Adequate?' British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 35, pp. 125-127, 2001).
An astonishing 45.7 % of the golfers performed no warm up at all, stepping up to the first tee and hitting the ball viciously without either warming the muscles or warning the nervous system that activity was imminent. That means, of course, that 54.3 % did warm up, but most of these pre-play activities were woefully limited. Most individuals who did warm up simply took a few 'air swings'; no golfer undertook aerobic activity, and few performed stretching. On the rare occasions when stretching was performed dynamically, just three muscle groups - the shoulders, trunk, and lower back - were stretched. On the even rarer occasions when muscles were stretched statically, only three other groups - the wrist, hamstrings, and shoulders - were unkinked. The authors concluded that less than 3 % of the golfers warmed up adequately.
An appropriate warm up for golfers probably includes a period of general aerobic activity to increase body temperature, systematic stretching of the 'golf muscles' (hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders, lower back, chest, trunk, hamstrings, and groin), and then a series of golf swings with a progressive increase in range of motion and speed. This would be a very reasonable way to warm up, one which enhances performances and should decrease the risk of injury, but almost no golfer is doing it!