To an outsider, golf might not seem like a physically demanding sport, but anyone who has spent a day on the course knows that a few hours spent swinging your clubs can wreak havoc on your joints and muscles.

Common golf injuries involve the back, shoulders, and elbow. Executing the correct stretches before you hit the course can mean the difference between a fun, successful round of golf or post-game pain. Check out these tips to limber up before you step on the course.

Shoulder Stretch

Stiff shoulders not only affect your pain but how you swing. Here’s a helpful stretch to get you limbered up:

  • With one hand on each end, hold a golf club in front of your chest with an overhand grip
  • While locking your elbows, lift the club up and over your head
  • Stretch your shoulders to move your hands as far back as you can reach
  • Hold for 10 to 20 seconds
  • Repeat 2-3 times

Back Bends

Back pain is a common complaint about many athletes. Limbering up is important, but perhaps most important in your back. Try this simple forward bend exercise:

  • Stand up straight with your shoulders relaxed
  • Interlace your fingers behind your back
  • Lift your shoulders to your ears and your hands (still interlaced) away from your back
  • Slowly bend forward at the waist, keeping your back flat
  • Lift your hands over your head as far as you can reasonably reach
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds and release
  • Repeat 2-3 times

Core and Lateral Stretch

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Slowly bend to the right side and reach over the top of your head with your right hand
  • Remember, this is a side stretch: Do not bend forward!
  • Hold for a few seconds, then release back to center
  • Repeat on the left side.

Stretching before you begin your round is a good idea, but another important tip to staying limber is hydration. The combination of being on your feet and being out in the sun can dehydrate you quickly, so drink plenty of water while you’re on the course.

Keep in mind that these are meant to be gentile stretches that should not be painful. And just as it is important to warm up before golfing, it’s also important to give your body some time to cool down afterward. If you’re looking for more stretches perfect for golf, check out these ideas from the Mayo Clinic.