The Most Common Golf Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Playing golf requires a lot of time and effort, as well as a great deal of skill, mental fortitude, and perseverance. Nevertheless, the intense and eruptive nature of the swing can put plenty of stress on the body, and, as a result, most professional golfers have experienced some type of injury at one point in their careers.
If you're a golf enthusiast, regardless of your skill level, chances are you're going to suffer one of the injuries we're about to discuss in this article at some time in your life. We're also going to offer tips on how to prevent these injuries, some of which can render you unable to play for months. So, here are five of the most common golf injuries and how to prevent them.
1. Rotator Cuff Injury
Avid golfers can easily mess up their rotator cuffs, the four stabilizing muscles located in each of your shoulders. The repetitive motion of the arm is usually what causes this injury in golf players. Occurring when the muscles swell and pinch the space between the arm and shoulder bones, rotator cuff impingements are just one of the injuries that can affect these muscles. Furthermore, golfers can develop tendinitis and tears in the rotator cuff because of the repetitive motion of the swing.
Another type of injury occurs when one of the tendons or muscles tears. All of these injuries cause pain and inhibit your game. Rotator cuff injuries are usually treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, but in severe cases, surgical repair is necessary. To prevent rotator cuff injuries, you should practice correct form and engage in regular strength training and stretching the muscles of the shoulders, back, and abdomen. Moreover, to prevent this injury, you should:
- use a thorough warm-up regimen before playing
- take breaks in between golf rounds
- use proper technique when swinging the golf club
- strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint
2. Golfer's Elbow
Putting too much stress on your muscles, joints, and other tissues without allowing them to fully recover can cause golfer's elbow, which is pain on the inside of the elbow. It's a repetitive strain injury caused by the overuse of the forearm muscles, such as when gripping, lifting, and other activities involving repetitive forward bending of the wrist. While "tennis elbow" refers to irritation and inflammation of the outer tendon, "gofer's elbow" is irritation and inflammation of the inner tendon.
The medical term for these injuries is tendinitis. Here are some tips on how to prevent injuring your inner elbow while playing golf:
- stretch the muscles in your forearm before and after playing
- strengthen your forearm muscles by using light weights
- use the right equipment and avoid using old golf clubs
- know when to rest, and if you experience elbow pain, apply ice
3. Back strains
The rotational stresses of the swing can put significant pressure on the spine and muscles. Moreover, the fact that golfers spend four to five hours in a bent-over position, repeating the same movement hundreds of times, it's no wonder that playing golf can cause minor back strains that can easily lead to severe injuries. A strain occurs when there's an injury to a muscle or tendon. Unsurprisingly, back pain is the most common golfing injury. More specifically, lower back pain from golf accounts for between 18% and 54% of all documented ailments, which makes it the most common injury in this sport.
It's important to note that a muscle strain isn't the same as a muscle sprain. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the bands providing stability between your joints. These are some useful tips on how to prevent back sprains and back pain when and after playing golf:
- practice correct form and regularly exercise the muscles of your back
- flexibility exercises such as yoga can help prevent back injuries
- shorten the backswing to decrease the rotational and side-bending movements on the lower back
- raise your front heel during the backswing
4. Knee Pain and Damage
Knee pain can occur from the strain placed on the knee to stabilize the rotation of the hips at the beginning of the swing. Furthermore, extreme force placed on the knee can result in torn ligaments, which may require surgery. Golfers with arthritis should be extra careful when playing, as they may experience more knee problems because of the degenerative nature of their disease. Knee injuries vary in type and severity.
To prevent knee pain, stretch your calves, hamstrings, thighs, and core muscles before starting to play. Wear quality shoes with good arch support and use a brace if you feel weakness in your knees. The following are more tips on how to prevent knee damage and injury while playing golf:
- stand as upright as possible, keeping knee bending to a minimum during the swing
- thoroughly warm up your knee joints before hitting your first ball
- pay attention to your form and knees during the entire game
- practice good body mechanics when you're swinging, bending to pick up balls, or squatting
5. Wrist Injuries
The repetitive motions of swinging and the high speed of the swing can place wrists at high risk for injury. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that pain and tenderness on the top of the wrist felt at the top of the backswing and at impact are common in golfers. Tendonitis is the most prevalent injury concerning the wrist in golf players, and it entails the swelling of the tendons that are responsible for wrist movement. Often, wrist tendonitis occurs in the areas where tendons cross each other or pass over a bony area. This can lead to pain when you move the wrist.
To prevent wrist injuries such as tendonitis while playing golf, you should:
- stretch before you play, and take as many practice swings as you need
- get thicker grips, as a wider, thicker grip means you won't have to hold the golf club as tightly
- make sure you have the right equipment, as clubs that are too short or too long may cause wrist injury
- replace grips often and try to replace your club grips every fifty rounds of golf
To help prevent golf injuries, most professional players follow structured fitness and exercise programs. Maintaining fitness is a crucial part of a healthy and competitive golf game. You should do the same, even if you're a casual player. Experts also suggest players should work with a golf professional to learn proper swing techniques. Good form puts less stress on the body and helps improve flexibility. A poor swing can increase the risk of injury. Therefore, paying attention to your form by exercising regularly and properly stretching before any game are the keys to avoiding golf injuries.