Today, Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Golfers Are Not Immune to Injuries

Golfers Are Not Immune to Injuries

Since golf is not a full-contact sport, many underestimate the likeliness of golfers injuries. This is a mistake since there are many golf-related injuries worthy of concern.  Golfers who do not take avoidance steps, risk not only being injured, but being sidelined from the game as well; this never helps the total score. There are various ways to prevent injuries; knowledge is the first step. Having the knowledge of which areas of the body are more susceptible to being hurt will keep golfers safe and healthy. 

Back Pain

The most common injury sustained by golfers is back pain because of the pressure the back endures during the swinging motion. Some possible sources of pain include disc-related ones, arthritis, or a stress fracture. It is important to seek medical assistance at the first sign of sharp or lingering pain. Often, these types of golfers injuries are accompanied by spasms, numbness, or a general leg weakness. This is caused by the irritation of the nerves in the back and legs. 

Once a back injury takes place, the best way to deal with it is through rest. If the pain does not dissipate, or is severe from the start, consulting a doctor is recommended. Physicians may use medication, therapy, braces, or even surgery to heal the injury. It is worth noting that surgery may be necessary if the pain is chronic or the damage done to the back is substantially above average. 

Preventing back pain involves using proper technique on the swing itself. Slowing down your backswing minimizes the stress put on the lower back. The classic swing technique, using an ample shoulder and hip turn will also relieve pressure. If you are right handed, body weight should shift to the right foot during the swing and follow through. Placing the feet too far apart will limit the hip turn and should be avoided.  

Besides swinging, golfers have been known to injure their backs while lifting their bags and retrieving a ball. When lifting, always bend at the knees, using your leg strength to minimize your back’s involvement. This also works when picking up a ball as opposed to leaning over improperly. If you are experiencing any form of back pain, switching to a putter with a longer shaft than the one you currently use might help limit it. 

Golfer’s Elbow

Although tennis elbow is actually common in golfers as well, the soreness on the inside of the upper arm is referred to as golfer’s elbow. The difference between the two is that tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the arm. With either of them, the tenderness can turn to acute pain and worsen over time. Rest is a recommended treatment, along with therapy, bracing, and in some cases, surgery.  

Switching to the lighter graphite shafts and using low compression balls will lower the strain your elbows can experience during impact. Practice a more elliptical swing with a sweeping motion and avoid a tight grip. The elbows should remain relatively loose during the swing. Returning the club as slowly as possible is helpful. Maintaining control over the backswing will prevent golfer’s elbows and other related golfers injuries. If possible, stand on real turf instead of rubber mats to further ease the tension on your elbow joints. 

Knee Pain

Twisting, squatting down, and walking can be instrumental to injuring a knee cap, or tearing a muscle in the knee itself. Some of the symptoms are swelling, clicking, and a general pain in the knee area. To avoid them, you can wear spike-less shoes and reduce the stress put on the knees during swinging. If you are recuperating from a previous knee injury, use short irons during practice, and make sure that you are completely ready to play again before swinging at all. There is a high rate of re-injuries for golfers who return prematurely. 

Treatments include rest and medication, bracing, therapy, and injections. Arthroscopic surgery can be prescribed if there is a meniscus tear. In the case of chronic or severe arthritis, a person may require total joint replacement surgery.  


Pain at the base of the thumb is often an indication of tendinitis. For golfers, the top of the backswing is a source for more pain related to the left wrist. Always release your hands at the right time, and do not cock your wrist while swinging. It should be a casting motion and balanced approach. Rest, medication, thumb splinting, and cortisone are the typical treatment methods. Arthritis can appear to have the same symptoms as tendinitis, so be sure to have an X-ray before proceeding with treatment, especially surgery.  

Shoulder Pain

Flexibility is vital to preventing shoulder pain that can be agonizing during a swing or at night. A swing plane that is more flat will even out your swing and cut back on any jolts to your shoulders. Use a sweeping motion and keep both shoulders in the proper position, concentrating on the strength required for the swing. They need to be flexible and in control at the same time, especially with the backswing. As with other golfers injuries, rest, therapy, medication, and surgery are effective treatment options. Arthritis is also a possible cause for shoulder pain. 


Another area that heightens the overall risk of injury is overuse. If a person practices or plays too much, they are essentially ignoring the signals being sent by their muscles. This is dangerous because as muscles tire, they lose the ability to protect themselves. Overuse also causes lack of control and flexibility, and improper techniques; all factors that lead to pain-related injuries. 

Warming Up

Recent studies have confirmed that warming up before playing greatly reduces the risk for golfers injuries. This includes stretching all of the muscles used in swinging: wrists, hands, back, forearms, shoulders, chest, and hamstrings. In addition, aerobic activity will raise body temperature to better prepare muscles for activity. Starting off with slow swings and building up to heavier ones is an excellent way to warm up and avoid being injured during the game. Researchers estimate that only 3% of golfers take the time to warm up sufficiently, increasing the total number of injuries. Understanding that the pain experienced from any golf-related injury is most likely preventable will hopefully change that statistic; it is literally in the hands of the golfers themselves.

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References - About - Sports Medicine - Sports Injury Bulletin

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