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Animal Flow for Golf (Part 1)

Warm up your body–and your game–with Activations and Form Specific Stretches
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Golf isn’t just a good ol’ time with some pals and a six-pack of carbonated beverages. It’s a sport. A demanding, rigorous, physically, and mentally, vexing activity. And like any sport, you gotta get warm first.

I’m not talking hot-chocolate-with-a-dash-of-Baileys warm. I’m talking full-body-mobilizations warm.

Most people show up to the course 10 minutes before their tee-time, smack a few three-footers, and hack out a coupla chips before venturing off for an 18-hole endeavour. No surprise here: if that’s going to be your approach to the game, well, then good luck getting that handicap under 10.

There are few sports where so much force is exerted in a singular, twisting motion. Over and over again. Failing to prepare your body adequately for demands of this nature will almost certainly show up as a below-potential game at best, or sport-hampering (and life-hampering) injury at worst.

Enter: the warm-up. Enter: Animal Flow.

From warming up on the course to training off it, Animal Flow is an ideal form of exercise for people at all fitness levels. It not only prepares your muscles and joints but also activates the central nervous system (CNS). This means that it warms up the brain and spinal cord. The CNS is responsible for all the movements you make. When the CNS is fully activated, your brain feels safe. Until this happens it won’t let you swing to your full potential. Animal Flow can also add power to your golf game by increasing strength and stability in the rotation of your hips.

Finally, Animal Flow emphasizes our connection between breath and movement. This is an essential element of your concentration and, most importantly, success on the golf course.

Rolf playing Golf

For Master Instructor, Rosh, Animal Flow forms a vital part of his pre-game preparation.

Step 1: Activating the Nervous System

In an episode of the ‘Off Course with Claude Harmon‘ podcast, 2020 U.S. Open Champion Bryson Dechambeau says it can take up to 120 swings to get your nervous system functioning at a level of performance considered to be optimal. Let me repeat that: 120 swings. For some people, that’s a full 18 holes or 45-60 min on the range.

Unless you’re a pro like Bryson, you most likely don’t have that kind of time. Instead, we can use the second component of Animal Flow, Activations, to hasten that process.

Activations start from one of two base positions, Beast and Crab. From here you can do what is known as Limb Lifts. This can mean either lifting one hand or foot (single), or your opposing hand and foot (contralateral), off the ground at the same time.

Beast Activations

Crab Activations

These are simple movements designed to wake up your body and loosen your muscles. Doing one or two sets before you hit the range can reduce the number of swings needed to activate your nervous system. Come tee off, you’ll be swinging at full speed.

Step 2: Form Specific Stretches

Once your nervous system is warmed up, it’s time to fire up the rest of your body. For this, you can use the third component of Animal Flow: Form Specific Stretches (FSS). Of course, I encourage you to use all of the available FSS but if you don’t have all the time in the world and are eager to hit the links, I’d encourage you to do at least three: Wave Unload, Scorpion Reach, and Crab Reach.

Wave Unload

Golf puts incredible demands on your spine and hips. Wave Unload is designed to mobilize the spine, segment by segment. It’s also extremely effective at opening the tissue connecting the front of the hips to the low back.

Scorpion Reach

Scorpion Reach starts by ‘charging’ the anterior oblique sling or functional line. This is a line of tissue that spans the distance from one shoulder to your opposite hip, that is responsible for rotation. You’ll use this line of tissue on EVERY swing. In the Peak Position (where your hips are at the highest point of the movement), the goal is to create enough rotation and lateral flexion of the spine so that the hips stack on top of one another. It mimics the rotation you need in both the front and back swings.

Crab Reach

In Crab Reach, the goal is the same as Scorpion Reach (rotation and lateral flexion of the spine) except instead of both hands on the ground, you have both feet on the ground. Crab Reach also mobilizes the oblique slings again to increase body rotation.

A warmed-up body equals a fired-up game

Incorporating these Animal Flow movements into your warm-up routine will, over time, increase your flexibility and strength, which, in turn, can help you to add power and endurance to your golf swing. Most importantly, though, they may help to prevent acute and chronic injuries that often plague golfers throughout their careers.

You might even gain a few extra yards off the tee. A worthy exchange.

So, if you don’t have the resources to train like the pros, instead: train smarter, show up earlier, skip the Bloody Mary–and do a real warm-up.

Animal Flow On Demand’s Fluid Mobility classes are another excellent way to prepare your body ahead of a day on the green. Get started on your free 14-day trial today!