You wouldn’t think a day out on the links could lead to injury, but every year around 1 in 5 golfers experience the pains and aches of injury. Severe or no, golf injuries can become chronic overuse injuries and should be treated before they exacerbate. Fortunately, there’s steps you can take to recognize, prevent, and treat golf-related injuries and keep your game in top shape.
Unlike high-intensity sports like basketball, baseball, or soccer, the vast majority of golfing injuries are caused by overuse. In fact, it’s estimated that only 20% of injuries caused while golfing are caused by sudden trauma such as trips, falls, or impacts from balls and clubs. The rest are a result of stress to the body’s rotator cuffs, joint, and spine.
The most common golf injury by far is lower back pain. This is a result of the swinging motion, particularly during a drive. Professional golfers swing harder, but the average hard drive (that is, for a distance over 250 yards) involves swinging a one pound metal object at 160kph, the force of which is torque that’s applied almost entirely to your lower back. That’s an incredible amount of torque, and one your back cannot handle repeatedly.
Another huge problem with pain and aches for die-hard golfers is rotational damage to the wrist, elbow, and rotator cuff in the shoulder.
Most commonly, amateur golfers will experience Golfer’s Elbow, which is damage to the medial epicondyle in the elbow, which radiates downwards to the fingers and causes pain while gripping and weakness in the arm. Other arm injuries are similar tendon damage that occurs over repetitive swings.
Other potential causes for injury are tears in tendons in the should, arm or wrist to due to block shock from striking a club into a rough or fairway, as well as potential knee injury in older golfers due to long periods standing or kneeling.
Fortunately, it’s highly rare that a golf injury is an immediate concern. However, failure to seek physiotherapy treatment for an overuse injury can lead to lasting damage, discomfort, weakness and pain.
Treatment usually begins with a full neurodynamic assessment, as well as testing your full body strength and flexibility. From there, we can start to work on light resistance training to build proper kinetic motion in the affected area. In the case of lower back pain, further assessment may be needed as the direct cause may be due to golf, but be indicative of a chronic weakness in the lower back. As needed, a chiropractic referral may be provided.
Most importantly, a proper rehabilitation will involve assessing the form of your swing and what steps you can take to improve your swing in a way that friendlier on your arm joints and your back.
While overuse injuries are always a risk when you’re dedicated to your sport, there’s preventative steps you can take to greatly lessen your risk of injury.
Primary among them is warming up, which is a significant problem as nearly 80% of hobbyist golfers report that they do no form of pre-game warm-up before playing. Stretches, in particular lower back and shoulder stretches, can loosen up tendons and ligaments and prevent overuse injuries from twisting and swinging.
Also consider wrist and elbow flexor exercises periodically, at least twice a week if you play golf once per week. Tension bands are an inexpensive way to do light exercise motions that build wrist and elbow connective tissue strength.
Above all, be aware that golf injuries can happen to anyone. Recognizing that an injury has occurred and needs treatment is going to help you manage the injury, quell the pain, and get you back on the green -right to a tee.
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