It’s early. Before the heat of the day has set in. As you approach the course, the morning mist is beginning to clear and the smell of fresh-cut grass floats through the air. You can almost hear the crunch of spikes on the path and the whir of your golf cart. Your hands already tingle from smacking the ball straight down the fairway. You haul your clubs out of your trunk and head to the driving range to warm up.
Unfortunately, you can also feel your lower back tightening. And, the tingling in your hands might not be from your perfect drive but from your sore wrist instead. As popular as the game of golf has become, golf can hurt.
All golfers are looking to have an injury-free golf swing and improve their game. Golf-related injuries are common, especially in golfers who have limitations in strength, flexibility, or balance.
Rehabilitating the Injured Golfer
The average golf swing requires the body to have a high level of rotation and bend, movements that our bodies are designed to support when performed correctly. Musculoskeletal impairments can complicate the situation by using swing techniques that negatively impact areas like the lower back, elbow, or wrist.
Instead of fighting your body and practicing poor technique, build a stronger body that will make you feel better and play better.
Injury Free Golf Swing
Limitations of the body and poor technique can lead to many golf-related injuries. Understanding the mechanics behind your swing can help you correct negative practices and prevent further injury.
The good news is that golf injuries are common but avoidable. An injury-free golf swing is possible!
Common Golf Injuries
The entire body is used when executing a golf swing. While appearing simple and straightforward, the combination of movements in the body is complex, requiring a great deal of coordination. Although golf is a low-impact sport, it has a high rate of injury.
Most golf-related injuries are a result of overuse, poor mechanics, or a combination of the two. When a golf swing (especially a poorly executed swing) is repeated frequently, significant stress is placed on the joints, muscles, and tendons, gradually resulting in injury.
Most golf-related injuries occur when the golf club hits the ball, causing the majority of golf injuries to occur in the upper body. However, injuries to golfer’s knees, hips, and ankles can also occur.
Common golf injuries include:
- Back Pain. Mostly mid to lower back pain
- Elbow Tendonitis. Commonly referred to as golfer’s elbow
- Shoulder Pain
- Wrist Pain or Tendonitis
- Knee Pain
- Hip Pain
- Ankle and Foot Injuries
Injury Prevention for Golfers
The backbone of a strong game is having a good, strong swing. A strong swing requires various body parts to work together into a single fluid motion. A good swing comes from having proper form and a flexible, powerful core. If your form is off or you’re lacking in strength and flexibility, other parts of the body begin to compensate, increasing your risk of injury.
Learning exercises and stretches can help to improve your form and power while preventing injury.
Like any athlete, warming up is critical for golfers to avoid injury. A few swings at the driving range alone won’t cut it. Consider adding these stretches and warm-ups before you tee off.
- Trunk Twists – Use your club to stretch out and warm up your back, hips, and core. Trunk twist stretches for golfers include pivot twists, crossover twists, and wide grip twists.
- Wrist Extensions – Wrist extensions help to build forearm strength and flexibility. Critical for achieving a strong downswing and backswing.
- Hip Stretches – Stretching out the lower body is crucial to the rotation and downswing. Stretching can help improve your posture and swing power.
Preventing Low Back Pain for Golfers
Low back pain is one of the most common golf injuries. Tweaking a muscle during your swing, lugging your bag around, or bending to pick-up your ball can all lead to back pain. To help prevent low back pain for golfers consider:
- Building a strong core. Holding a strong core will help support the low back and provide power in your swing.
- Balance and flexibility training. Together balance and flexibility are the basis for proper posture and mechanics.
- Slowing your backswing to reduce stress on the low back.
Preventing Shoulder, Elbow, and Wrist Pain for Golfers
Shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries are the next most common golf-related injuries. Stretching and strengthening these areas will provide stability and power while also preventing injuries.
Physical Therapy for Golfers
If you are looking to improve your range of motion, hit the ball further, or recover from a golf-related injury physical therapy can help. Dr. Edgar notes that physical therapy can help whether you are a novice golfer, weekend golfer, or a professional. Physical therapy helps to eliminate your physical limitations and improve your golf game. By helping to treat limited mobility, weakness, or instability along with position, movement, and speed, physical therapy can:
- Reduce or eliminate golf injury pain
- Improve your long game
- Enhance the accuracy of your short game
Golfers who invest in physical therapy, even before an injury, can improve their game. When visiting Optimal Sports Physical Therapy for help with a golf-related injury, or to improve strength and flexibility, you can expect us to:
- Review your swing to identify any biomechanics that may be impeding your performance.
- Develop a treatment plan based upon your goals and any injuries.
- Provide hands-on therapy to ensure the healing of any injuries.
- Educate you on exercises that will support long-term recovery and help to optimize your game.
Whether golf is a new interest or a lifelong hobby, make the most out of your time on the course. Learn how to prevent golf-related injuries and improve your strength and flexibility by working with a trained Physical Therapist at Optimal Sports Physical Therapy. Don’t wait for an injury to contact our office at 406-502-1782 to schedule a visit with Dr. Edgar.