Often perceived as a low risk sport, golf is actually physically demanding and injuries from golf are on the rise.
One study showed that during a two-year period, 60 percent of golf professionals and 40 of amateurs suffered either a traumatic or overuse injury while golfing. Over 80 percent of the reported injuries were related to overuse.
“Many golfers incur injuries to the back, wrist, elbow and other joints,” says John Crowe, M.D., who specializes in treating hand and wrist conditions. “Newer players are often hurt because of poor mechanics, but avid golfers with years of experience frequently suffer from overuse injuries. As with many activities that involve repetitive movements, joint wear and tear is a major concern. Also the combined twisting of the spine and the torque that is absorbed in the hands while swinging and hitting the ball can create ideal conditions for injury.”
ONS physicians treat a wide variety of conditions in professional and amateur golfers. Of the aches and pains that commonly afflict golfers, low back pain is the most common injury or complaint in both groups. The rotation of the spine as a golfer swings his club toward the ball places considerable strain on the spine and surrounding muscles in the back. Players who lack ideal flexibility and strength are at particular risk for back strain, but professionals too are at risk due to the regular high demands imposed on their bodies. Most back/spine problems can be corrected by adjusting the dynamics of the players swing, anti-inflammatory medications or other conservative treatments.
Second to low back injuries are upper extremities injuries. A golfer’s wrist is particularly vulnerable to injury from overuse or poor wrist control during the swing. Unexpected accidents may also cause injury like swinging at a ball in high grass and colliding with a tree root.
Try these 10 helpful tips!
1. Train by repetitive motor learning specific to golf. Example: long distance runners are not trained by sprinting.
2. Never separate the torso from the hips while swinging.
3. For a more beneficial aerobic workout, walk outside, NOT on a treadmill.
4. Improving flexibility will result in fewer injuries, swing consistency, improved distance through less compensation and greater power.
5. Remember to stretch AFTER you warm-up your muscles.
6. To achieve a more powerful swing, strengthen your core through resistance training, yoga and Pilates.
7. Avoid surgery by taking care of your body on and off the course through exercise, healthy diet habits and minimizing stress.
8. Wrist weakness and radiating forearm pain could be “golfers elbow.” Be sure to maintain proper form and resist the temptation to play too much. REST is the best treatment for this injury.
9. Swimming, biking and using the elliptical machine are three of the most effective cross-training exercises.
10. When picking up your ball, always remember to bend with your knees.
11. Listen to your body and don’t play if you’re experiencing pain or are tired. If something is beginning to hurt, get it checked out.