Do you want to increase your range of motion, or to simply warm up to play? Here are five basic types of stretching:
STATIC: A muscle is taken to a point of a mild stretch and held there for 10 to 30 seconds. Relax the muscle and then repeat two to six times. Static stretching has been found to increase range of motion but does not increase core temperature.
PASSIVE: Similar to static stretching but done with a partner who is applying the stretch slowly and holding it for 10 to 30 seconds. This type has been found to increase range of motion but does not increase core temperature. With this method the partner must be very careful not to over-stretch and cause injury.
DYNAMIC: Involves active motions that gradually increase range of motion and speed. Examples include arm circles, leg swings, and trunk rotations. Dynamic stretching increases range of motion but also increases core temperature and helps the muscles warm up.
BALLISTIC: Involves bouncing and moving the muscle past its normal length. However, the muscle reflexively contracts to fight against the over-stretch and this can potentially cause injury to the muscle.
CONTRACT-RELAX: Performed with a partner who applies pressure in the direction of the stretch. The partner slowly pushes the player to the stretched position for six to 15 seconds. Then the player contracts and pushes back against the partner in the opposite six to 15 seconds. Finally the player relaxes for two to three seconds and the partner pushes the muscle further into the stretch for another six to 15 seconds. This sequence is typically repeated three or four times. Contract-relax can be very effective to gain range of motion and can mildly increase temperature of the muscles being activated.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Dynamic stretching is the only one that increases core temperature and is great for warming up, but it is not great for gaining range of motion. Dynamic stretching has been found to improve performance in high intensity activities, which includes the golf swing, and is recommended prior to any exercise, training or athletic pursuit. Static, passive and contract-relax stretching can all be good for gaining long-lasting range of motion, but should be done ideally after exercising so the core temperature is elevated. Ballistic stretching is not recommended since it tends to cause muscle soreness and potentially injury.