Protect yourself from common golf injuries
Believe it or not, most golfing-related injuries are a result of poor mechanics or overuse, particularly in golfers who are new to the game or who don’t play the game that often. Although golf isn’t a contact sport, it puts significant demands on your body — which can easily lead to golf injuries. For us amateur golfers, the most common golfing injuries often include the back, shoulders, elbows and knees. Back injuries are especially common in male golfers; however, elbow injuries are more common among female golfers due to the fact that women tend to overuse their elbows and carry them at a different angle when playing golf.
It is said that neck injuries account for around 7.5% of amateur golfing injuries. The main reasons for this include excessive practice, incorrect swinging technique, trips and falls, failure to warm up, and excessive carrying of the golf bag. Professional golfers on the other hand often tend to sustain different kinds of injuries. Professional golf injuries most often affect the wrist, followed by the back, left hand, left shoulder, left knee and left thumb. The main causes of professional golf injuries are overuse and contact with other objects.
Long after someone recovers from a spinal injury it can be extremely hard to get back to their normal golf game. One reason a lot golfers sustain back injuries is that a golf swing is very complicated and is made up from a number of asymmetrical body movements.
Golfing places significant pressure on the spine: axial twisting, compression, anterior-posterior shearing and lateral bending. While in the backswing position, there is torso-pelvic separation due to rotary forces ― the combination of rotating movements and lateral bending stress can affect the spine.
Also, in the case of follow-through, hyperextension forces are at their most prominent. Of all the movements in a golf game, the backswing is the most frequent cause of injuries because it involves excessive rotation of the body.
Here are some other helpful tips to avoid common golf injuries…
Adjust your swing
Understanding the mechanics behind your golf swing can help you prevent golf injuries:
• Use proper posture: Think about your posture before and during your swing. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and distribute your weight equally on both feet. Avoid hunching over the ball, which may contribute to neck and back strain.
• Stay smooth: The power of a golf swing comes from force transferred smoothly through all the muscle groups, from your ankles to your wrists. If you depend on one part of your body for your hitting power, you may be more prone to injuries. For example, overemphasizing your wrists during your swing can lead to golfer’s elbow — a strain of the muscles on the inside of the forearm.
• Don’t overswing: If you swing the club too hard or too fast, you may stress your joints. Relax and take a nice, easy swing at the ball. The best golfers have consistent — not necessarily fast — swing tempos. If you want to reduce the risk of golf injuries, consider taking lessons. What you learn about your golf swing may even help you shave strokes from your score.
Other tips to keep you on the course
There’s more to golf than your golf swing. Consider other ways to lower your risk of golf injuries:
• Warm up: Before you practice your golf swing or play a round of golf, warm up with a brisk walk or a set of jumping jacks. Stretch your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine and pelvis. Swing your golf club a few times, gradually increasing your range of motion.
• Start slowly: You might practice your swing for hours, believing it’s helping your game — but if your body isn’t conditioned for the strain, practicing your golf swing may do more harm than good. Work up to your desired level of activity instead.
• Strengthen your muscles: You don’t need bulging muscles to hit a long drive — but the stronger your muscles, the greater your club speed. Better yet, stronger muscles are less prone to golf injuries. For best results, do strength training exercises year-round.
• Focus on flexibility: Regular stretching can improve your range of motion and lead to a more fluid golf swing.
• Build up your endurance: Regular aerobic activity can give you staying power on the course. Try walking, jogging, bicycling or swimming.
• Lift and carry clubs carefully: Golfers who carry their own bags have higher rates of shoulder and back injuries than do other golfers. If you jerk heavy clubs out of the trunk of your car, you could injure yourself before you reach the first tee.