Break the Pain Cycle

Instead of playing hurt, try warming up correctly

by Dee Tidwell

photos by E. J. Carr

Do you play golf with pain?

Then guess what? You are making your game worse! That’s right; every time you play with pain you either begin or reinforce a compensation cycle. This cycle completely disrupts your ability to reproduce a consistent swing and will affect your natural body mechanics.

So, what does that mean?

For most golfers, it means more time and money spent with your golf instructor, who’ll teach you compensative movements. Why learn how to compensate? You’ll never improve. If the wheels of your car were out of alignment, would you practice how to steer it straighter instead of getting it fixed?

So how do you prevent this cycle from beginning and how do you stop it?

Lack of mobility is one of the chief causes of pain among golfers between the ages of 32 and 56. If you aren’t warming up before a round, pain will follow. So I am going to show you five mobility warm-ups you can use not only before a round, but also before a workout or just generally to help your body move better.

Your body alternates between stable segments (foot, knee, core, scapula, elbow) and mobile joints (ankle, hip, torso/ribcage, rotator cuff, wrist). Most pain-related issues happen because there’s immobility where there needs to be mobility and instability where there needs to be stability.

Understanding the concept, let’s go through five warm-up drills for the mobile segments.


OLD SCHOOL ANKLE CIRCLES (1-2 sets of 10 reps each direction, each foot)

Stand on one leg and simply roll your ankle in a circular pattern. Do both directions—clockwise and counterclockwise. If you’ve ever injured your ankle before you may find sticky points in your range of motion. When you do, pause in the range and gently push more into the range, then continue.



ALL FOURS HIP CIRCLES 1-2 sets of 10 reps each direction, each leg

1) Get on all fours with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips


2) Then, while maintaining the 90-degree knee, lift leg and create circle with the knee, allowing the hip to rotate with the leg also.


3 & 4) Seek to create a nice circle with the knee like you are drawing a circle on the wall in front of your leg. Work those tight areas more.x




SEATED BREATHING, ROTATION + EXTENSION 2 sets of 2-5 breaths each side

1) Sit on a chair with feet flat and legs wider than hips. Cross arms at chest.


2) Do a test and rotate back as far as you can and notice where you turn to. Be sure to keep equal pressure on your sit bones throughout this entire exercise! Please go easy and start only with two cycles!


3 & 4) Take a breath in, then exhale, side bend and rotate as far as you can go GENTLY. Pause in this position, then repeat pattern for listed number of reps. Again, inhale, side bend and rotate more… GENTLY.


5-8) Perform your motion test to the opposite side and see how much further you go.


Rotator Cuff

Y.T.L.W. 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps each letter

1) Get into an athletic posture with a neutral spine from tailbone to head, knees soft a, good hip hinge and arms at the start position of hanging.

2) With straight elbows, create a Y.

3) Then create a T

4) To create the L and…

5) …the W, bend your elbows to 90 degrees. It is important to focus on using your shoulder blades to make these moves happen. Squeeze them at the end of each range all while maintaining good posture.



FOLLOW THE THUMB ROTATIONS 1 set of 5 reps each of each move for each side.

Move 1

1) Stand in good upright posture and place your arm in front of you with your thumb up.

2) Begin to turn your arm away but keep your eyes focused on your thumb till you can no longer see it in your peripheral.

3) Bring arm back to front and watch your thumb until it is in front of you again. Repeat for listed reps then do other side.


Move 2

Same as above except this time you are going to rotate your head away from your thumb as it and the arm moves away from you. You won’t go very far since you’ll lose your thumb due to rotating your head away from the arm. Repeat for listed reps then do other side.


Dee Tidwell owns Colorado Golf Fitness Club in the Denver Tech Center and has thrice been named a Golf Digest Fitness Instructor. He is a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) professional, ELDOA Trainer and has coached two PGA TOUR winners and countless amateur, high school and college golfers.; 303-883-0435

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