How to Avoid & Prevent Common Golf Injuries
Posted on January 31, 2017
While golf isn’t a traditional contact sport there is a risk of injury involved in playing the game. From walking the course to repetitive swinging of the golf club, there are many factors that lead to injury. Perhaps the most crucial thing to remember to avoid injury is to use proper form and technique. Below is a look at some common injuries that afflict golfers and tips to prevent them.
Lower Back Pain
One of the most common injuries affecting golfers is lower back pain. The repeated action of swinging the golf club, especially with an incorrect swing, is one factor leading to lower back pain. The posture of the golfer being hunched over a club, particularly the putter, also factors into creating back strain. The rotation of the body during a swing can cause pulling on tendons and muscles in the back as well. Carrying your own golf clubs can also create wear and tear on your back. Common lower back issues range from muscle strain, irritated spinal joints to a herniated or slipped disc.
Prevention of lower back pain starts with ensuring you have proper mechanics in your golf swing. Working with a golf professional will help equip you with sold swing fundamentals. Proper stretching and exercise to increase core strength and work on stability can help relieve lower back strain. Yoga can be beneficial to improve flexibility. If you’re carrying your own bag make sure the straps are adjusted to the proper length and don’t cause to much undue stress on yourself. If you find yourself with some lower back pain you may want to take these steps to alleviate the pain. Rest is essential to relieving back pain. Additional remedies include alternating between hot and cold compress, pain medication with inflammation reduction such as ibuprofen, or a deep tissue massage. If your lower back pain is too much to take then it may be time to visit a doctor or chiropractor.
Elbow Pain – Tendinitis
Golfers can experience a couple types of tendinitis in the elbow which are commonly referred to by sports related terms. Medial Epicondylitis, commonly known as ‘Golfer’s Elbow,’ is inflammation and irritation to the inner tendons of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow is frequently caused by striking the ground first on your golf swing. Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as ‘Tennis Elbow,’ is irritation and inflammation of the outer tendons of the elbow. Tennis elbow for golfers is suspected to be caused by over-extension during your golf swing. Inflammation can be caused as well by using a forceful grip or being too ‘wristy.’
Rest and ice are good treatments to take care of ‘golfer’s elbow.’ If you use a strong and tight grip on your club and experience elbow issues than perhaps you should loosen your grip. Proper technique is always key to help prevent golf related injuries, consult your local golf professional for a technique tune-up. Regularly stretch your wrist and arms before starting each round or practice session. Compression straps and braces are available which help provide relief of golfer’s elbow. Using resistance bands to strengthen the muscle and elbow tendons will reduce the likelihood of getting tendinitis.
Foot Pain – Plantar Fasciitis
A common foot pain experienced by many golfers is Plantar Fasciitis, which is identified with pain under the heel of the foot due to inflammation of the plantar fascia, a fibrous sheath of connective tissue under the sole of the foot. This pain can occur after walking the golf course with improper footwear. The pain is commonly located under the heel and sole of the foot. A sign you may have Plantar Fasciitis is initial heel pain upon your first steps in the morning.
Proper stretching before starting a round of golf or a practice session is key to reduce injury. Appropriate footwear on the golf course can reduce the chance of Plantar Fasciitis. Some golf shoes lack the support in the sole which can cause foot pain while walking. Adding in an arch support insole to your golf shoes can help provide heel support and reduce foot strain.
Another common ailment for golfers is knee pain. As a golfer swings their weight shifts and the leading knee bares most of the body’s weight at the end of their swing. Walking the golf course after a long period of time can ware on your knee as well. Pre-existing knee injuries can be further irritated by golf. Proper form is key to ensure you’re not doing more harm to your knee.
Gel insoles, along with relieving foot pain, are also great in reducing knee pain. Rest and ice compression are reoccurring remedies as they do help to alleviate many of these golf related injuries. A variety of knee braces are available to help provide knee support during your next round. Make sure you’re practicing proper hip rotation and weight shift in your downswing. To ensure you’re using proper technique make sure to consult a local golf professional. Be sure to stretch your leg muscles thoroughly of your hamstrings, calves, thighs and core muscles before a round.
Shoulder Pain – Rotator Cuff
Golfers experience shoulder pain due to damage to the Rotator Cuff muscles. The muscles of the Rotator Cuff are smaller muscles situated around the joint of the shoulder. Injury to the Rotator Cuff can be the result of inflammation due to repeated stress from swinging the golf club. Faults in your swing can create undue stress on the shoulder and create irritation.
Proper stretching to increase flexibility in the shoulder muscles can help prevent shoulder pain. Strength and endurance exercises are essential as well to maintain a healthy shoulder. As with other golf related pains, an incorrect swing can cause strain on the shoulder so be sure to get your swing checked by a professional if you’re experiencing shoulder pains. The RICE method, Rest Ice Compression and Elevation, is recommended for treatment to reduce shoulder pain.
Golfers tend to experience injury in their wrists, and more frequently in their leading wrist. The repetitive motion of swinging, especially the cocking of the wrist motion, causes strain on the joints and tendons. Poorly hit shots where you hit into the ground before the ball at impact can cause wrist damage. The tendons of the wrists can get strained and after repetitive wear and tear can lead to tendinitis.
Strength and conditioning training is again key to helping prevent injury. Proper form again plays a vital role, if you’re cocking your wrist too much then you may be creating undue stress. You may want to look into getting yourself a wrist brace if the issue seems to be prolonged. You might also need to rest your wrist by taking a break from golf for a week or so to let yourself heal. Rest and ice are good treatments for aching tendons.
As you may have gathered swinging the club properly combined with a good pre-golf stretching routine can help prevent many of the above mentioned injuries. If you so happen to incur one of these injuries the go to method for most is rest. It is advised that if you experience any of these injuries for an extended period of time to consult a physician. Be safe out there on the golf course.