Golf is a sport that is often regarded as having a low risk of injury. While it is true that more high-impact sports like football and soccer have a greater risk of injury, golfers get injured too. Let’s go over some of the most common golf injuries and what you can do to prevent them.
Common Golf Injuries
Although golfers are at risk of injuring the knees, wrists, elbows, and shoulders, the most common golf injuries occur in the lower back.
Lower Back Injuries
Most injuries in the lower back are the result of overuse or improper form. The muscles and ligaments in the back can be pulled or strained. Overstretched tendons can be torn, and the muscle fibers may be damaged. Strained muscles usually heal within 3 to 4 weeks with proper treatment, which may include pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants, and hot and cold therapy. A patient may be advised to rest for a day or two if the pain is severe, but patients are generally advised not to rest for longer than a couple of days to avoid muscle weakness.
Disc injuries like herniated disc or bulging disc can also result from an improper form. These injuries may be treated with nonsurgical methods similar to the treatment for strained muscles. Treatment may also include physical therapy and cortisone injections. If nonsurgical treatment does not reduce a patient’s pain, surgery may be considered.
Other Common Golf Injuries
Aside from lower back injuries, elbow, knee, and shoulder injuries are also common. One of the most common of these injuries is a condition called medial epicondylitis, often referred to as golfer’s elbow. Golfer’s elbow results in pain and tenderness in the inner portion of the elbow, as the forearm muscle that attaches to the inside of the elbow sustains damage from overuse. In most cases, pain golfer’s elbow can be resolved with nonsurgical treatment.
In the shoulder, golfers can sustain rotator cuff and labral tears due to incorrect form in their backswing. Meniscal tears and arthritis often occur in the left knee due to the fact that it absorbs a great amount of force from the swing. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may involve more conservative methods, but may eventually require surgery if the patient’s condition does not improve.
Preventing Golf Injuries
Golf injuries are often the result of improper form or poor flexibility. To keep yourself in good shape and minimize the risk of injury, follow these tips.
Warm up before the game.
Even if you only have 10 or 15 minutes, take the time to do some quick shoulder, back, and leg stretches. If you can, go to the driving range and hit a few balls. This will help you to warm up, with the added benefit of helping to improve your game.
Do exercises that strengthen muscles and increase flexibility in problem areas.
If low back pain is a concern, focus on exercises that strengthen and improve flexibility in the abdomen. Yoga and Pilates can be quite helpful in building abdominal strength. To avoid golfer’s elbow, try exercises that strengthen the forearm muscles, like wrist curls and reverse wrist curls using a lightweight dumbbell. You can also try squeezing a tennis ball for 5 minutes at a time.
Pay attention to your swing.
Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with your weight evenly distributed between both feet. Keep your back straight; hunching can put extra strain on the neck and back. The swing should be smooth, with the force transferring from the ankles to the wrists. Overemphasis on any part of the body can make you more susceptible to injury. Finally, try not to swing too hard or fast; try to keep the swing relaxed, easy, and consistent. If you think your swing could use some work, consider taking golf lessons.
Taking these precautions can help you to not only reduce your risk of injury, but also improve your game.