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Five tips for avoiding golf injuries

Golf is one of the most popular recreational sports the United States. Approximately 28 million golfers participate in the sport on a regular basis, and there are nearly 16,000 golf facilities and United States.  

On average, each golfer plays 37 rounds of golf per year and unfortunately, studies have shown that 80 percent of golfers don’t warm up adequately. It’s estimated that about one in five golfers experience an injury every year. Most of these injuries involve low back pain (accounting for one fifth of injuries) followed by condition such as golfers elbow, plantar fasciitis, and other knee and shoulder problems.

The primary causes of these injuries are lack of flexibility and strength, poor swing mechanics, overuse, and lack of an adequate warmup. With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you stay in the game.

1. Get a clean bill of health

It is incredibly important to understand your general disease risk. Certain conditions such as peripheral vascular disease, heart disease, osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis can actually be made worse with exercise without adequate medical treatment.

It is recommended that men under the age of 50 have an annual exam every two years and then yearly after that. Women should begin having yearly exams at age 40. In addition to understanding your general disease risk, you may be better able to establish healthier lifestyle habits and begin a weight management program.

2. Improve your swing

The golf swing is divided into five phases: set-up, backswing, transition, downswing and follow through. It’s important to have good posture and to have smooth movement throughout each of the phases of the swing to prevent injuries.

It’s also important not to overswing and try to smash the ball. Any professional golfer will tell you that swinging hard will not improve your lie. Any medical professional will tell you that overswinging will increase your risk of injury. The best way to improve your swing is to get lessons and work with a golf professional. Other options might include watching instructional videos and other online resources.

3. Warmup

It’s estimated that during a golf swing, the head of the club will reach speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour in just 0.2 seconds. That amount of speed and acceleration can obviously lead to significant injuries to the elbow shoulder and lower back if the body is not ready (warmed up). The lead shoulder in any golf swing is subjected to certain movements that can lead to very specific problems such as rotator cuff impingement, acromioclavicular joint pain and or arthritis, posterior shoulder instability in which the shoulder shifts out of place, and rotator cuff tears. It should be noted, that most causes of shoulder pain are treatable and that if present, a medical evaluation should be performed.  Initial treatment might include conservative management such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and rest. Occasionally arthroscopic surgery by a shoulder specialist is necessary.

4. Be aware of your surroundings

Not surprisingly, injuries on the golf course can occur secondary to the environment in which the game is played. Backswing injuries and injuries from thrown clubs are rare, but can cause significant trauma. Cart driving accidents and other hazards on the course can occur and are usually preventable. Additionally, it is always important to understand the current weather conditions including the amount of sun, the temperature and the presence of lightning. Wearing adequate sunscreen and limiting sun exposure, drinking plenty of fluids on hot day, and getting back to the clubhouse during a thunderstorm will prevent problems.

5. Exercise regularly

Exercise reduces the impact of certain medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and it helps reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury. When designing a plan, it is important to include flexibility, core strengthening, strength training and aerobic exercise. Every workout should begin with a dynamic warmup in which the planned exercise is mimicked.

For instance, if you are planning on participating in a swimming workout, you might spend the first several minutes gently swinging your arms in the air in a manner similar to what will be occurring in the pool. During exercise, understand and accept your limitations. Don’t do too much too soon. Give your body time to adapt to your new self. At the end of every workout, a static stretching exercise is useful to help to build and maintain joint flexibility.

We all know that exercise is important as the benefits of a regular exercise program are well documented. One of the keys to developing regular exercise habits and maintaining health benefits is avoiding injuries and setbacks. Understanding your general disease risk, having good golf swing mechanics, adequately warming up prior to any strenuous exercise, being generally aware of your surroundings, and having a regular “off the course” exercise plan will benefit your game and decrease your risk of injury.

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