WEDNESDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Stretching before taking warm-up swings may hurt your golf game, a new study suggests.

Doing a passive, static stretching routine before taking practice swings results in "significant decreases in clubhead speed, distance, accuracy and consistent ball contact," according to Jeffrey C. Gergely, of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

He compared two different warm-up routines in a group of nine young male competitive golfers. On one day, the golfers did an active warm-up consisting of a series of practice swings. On another day, they did a 20-minute passive, static stretching warm-up before doing the practice swings. The stretching warm-up included 12 stretches, starting with the neck and proceeding to the calves.

After each warm-up routine, the golfers hit three full-swing shots with their driver and were assessed on four measures: distance, clubhead speed, accuracy and ball contact. On all four measures, the golfers performed worse after doing the passive warm-up routine -- clubhead speed was 5 percent slower, distance was 7 percent shorter, and accuracy was reduced by more than 60 percent.

Most of those differences were still evident when the golfers were assessed again an hour after doing the warm-up routines.

Stretching may cause tendons to become slack, thus reducing their ability to transmit force, Gergley suggested.

The study appears in the December issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Gergley said golfers should "get warm, stretch briefly and then start swinging clubs, ultimately reaching the tempo [and] speed you will use when you play."

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers tips to prevent golf injuries.