Preventing Golf Injury
Proper conditioning and swing mechanics can prevent golf pain and injury
The most common golfing injuries and pain occur in the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons) and joints of the upper body (back, elbow, wrist and shoulder). In general, a professional golfer has more overuse injuries due to hours of practice while amateurs are more likely to get injured due to their lack of conditioning and poor swing mechanics.
The top reasons golfers get injured include:
- Mis-hits or duffs (hitting the ground during the swing)
- Poor swing mechanics
- Skipping the Warm-up
- Twisting the Spine During the Swing
- Incorrect Grip
Most of these injuries can often be prevented by focusing on three areas: swing mechanics, proper conditioning and equipment choice.
Golf Swing Mechanics: Four Phases
- Ball strike
During the typical golf swing, the lumbar spine undergoes a variety of forces including compression and rotation.
You can reduce this stress by: Preventing Back Injuries
Rotate the shoulder and hip about the same amount during the backswingKeep the spine vertical during the follow-through (perpendicular to the ground) and avoid hyperextension.
Preventing Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder injuries in golfers are generally due to repetitive overuse syndromes of the rotator cuff muscles. The muscles of the shoulder joint undergo a variety of forces during the swing; to reduce shoulder pain, and potential injuries:
- Shorten the backswing slightly (end with the club head at a 1 o'clock rather than 3 o'clock).
- Strengthen the rotator cuff and scapular muscles (to reduce injury risk).
- Strengthen the chest (pectoralis major) and back (latissimus dorsi) muscles (these generate the power in the swing).
- Take a lesson with a pro and refine your swing so it is fluid.
Preventing Hand, Wrist and Elbow Injuries
Select larger club grips
Use softer grips
Use a neutral grip
Select irons with large heads and "sweet spots" to lessen vibration
Select graphite shafts are to lessen vibration
Select the correct club length (the end of the club should extend slightly beyond the palm of the leading hand)
Strengthen the forearm muscles
Take a lesson with a pro to select equipment and refine your swing.
Many of the injuries suffered by golfers are a combination of technique, equipment and physical conditioning. A visit with a qualified golf pro can address all three areas.
More Tips for Preventing Golf injuries
Get Adequate Rest:
Because many advanced golfers spend hours hitting balls on the practice tee and additional hours on the course, the chance of overuse injuries to the shoulder and elbow are increased.
Listen to Your Body:
To avoid overuse injuries decrease your play time at the first sign of aches and pains.
This is a process of creating a mental image or intention, of what you want to happen or to feel.
Do Core Conditioning Exercises:
Develop an overall conditioning program with special emphasis on core strength in the back, torso and shoulder.
Get a Proper Warm-up:
At a minimum get a 10 minute walk or perform the core strength routine as a warm up.
Sample Golf Stretches:
- Neck Rolls: Slowly perform clockwise and counter clockwise neck rolls
- Shoulder Stretches: Hold a golf club out in front of you with a hand at each end of the club. Raise it over your head and hold. Then hold it in the same manner behind your back and lift up to stretch the shoulders and hold. Finally, grab each elbow with the opposite hand and pull it across your body to stretch the outside capsule of each shoulder.
- Trunk side bends: With hands resting on your hips bend side to side and hold.
- Trunk rotation: With arms crossed and hands resting on the opposite shoulders, rotate the shoulders and hold in each direction.
- Swing Practice: Start swinging the club gently. At the driving range hit shots starting with a pitching wedge, and working up to the driver. If you can't go to a driving range prior to playing, use the same warm up without hitting any balls. Start with a half swing and work up to a full swing after several minutes. Focus on proper mechanics and a slow easy stroke.
Source: Managing Golf Injuries: Technique and Equipment Changes That Aid Treatment, The Physician and Sports Medicine, July 1999