“Fore!” – The Prevention of Golf Injuries
After a long and cold winter, spring and summer have finally arrived, and for some this means that golf season is in full swing. After putting this sport on hold for several months of winter (which can feel like forever), diving back into it full throttle can be a little too much, too soon for your body. Because of this long break, golf injuries can be very common.
Common Golf Injuries
Golf is often viewed as a soft, laid back, older person’s sport. In fact, it actuality requires various quick and intense movements of torque through many joints starting from the ankles all the way up to the wrists. Common golf injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Golfers Elbow (the most common form of elbow tendinitis due to golf, but tennis elbow can also occur)
- Shoulder (rotator cuff) strain/tendonitis
- Back pain
- Knee sprain
- Hip strain
Tips To Minimize Injuries
A Good Warm Up Through Dynamic Stretching
In most cases, dynamic stretches before golf and static stretches afterwards are enough to keep injuries from occurring and help maintain mobility. Some may wonder, what exactly is a dynamic stretch and why can’t I just do my regular stretch holds? Studies have shown that the classic stretch holds before sport can decrease performance and may even increase the chances of injury. This is because lengthening a muscle with a stretch before it needs to contract (shorten) explosively makes the muscle and tendon more vulnerable to injury. Dynamic stretching allows you to get through some range of motion with the goal of waking up sleepy muscles and warming them up. You are essentially preparing them to perform movements they will be doing during the sport, but in a controlled way. Dynamic stretches don’t need to be complicated, simply use the static or stretch hold and go in and out of the stretch.
Strength Is Important
We don’t need bulging muscles to play golf or to be able to hit that long drive. However, the stronger you are, the faster your club speed. Having strong muscles can also minimize the likelihood of injury as they are more accustomed to regular activity. It is suggested to have a year round strength program as you are continuously fine tuning your muscles.
Flexibility To Avoid Compensations
Golf is a very technical game, multiple joints are being put through their full range of motion to achieve a goal – hitting the golf ball. Having good flexibility in the upper back and hips will allow you to avoid compensations and minimize added stress on the low back, shoulders, elbows and wrists.
Build Up Endurance
Playing a full 18 holes of golf can be surprisingly very tiring, as you are in fact being active for a little over 4 hours. By the time you hit the back 9, you could feel some overall fatigue or certain muscles may feel overworked. Participating in a regular aerobic activity routine could help decrease this fatigue and build up some endurance to activity. This could be as simple as regular walking, jogging, cycling or swimming.
Sometimes A Health Professional Is Just What You Need
Some injuries have more of a complex cause which needs to be properly assessed in order to be fully addressed. For example, muscle strength imbalances can cause compensations in movement patterns which are painless at the beginning but slowly irritates tissue over time. Sometimes a seemingly minor joint can have limited range of motion which forces a joint above or below to compensate putting the body at risk of injury as the season wears on. If you are unsure what is causing the discomfort or pain that is limiting your performance or even preventing you from playing golf, consult a physiotherapists. Having a set of eyes looking over how you move can pin point areas of concern and then develop a personalized treatment plan to get you back to tee-off as soon as possible!
This article was written by our Physiotherapist Dominique Albert, a golf enthusiast!