Three Ways To Avoid Golf-Related Injuries
Author of “The Golfer’s Creed,” David Forgan astutely summed up one of golf’s major drawing points: “Golf is a science, the study of a lifetime in which you may exhaust yourself but never your subject.” Mr. Forgan’s “study of a lifetime” phrase is well understood. Indeed, golf is touted as a “lifetime sport” and attracts many individuals who are interested in low-impact yet challenging exercise. Yet, the phrase following is sometimes forgotten: the study of a lifetime in which you may exhaust yourself by never your subject.” Although a healthy dose of golf is very good on the body (a topic we may discuss in more detail in coming posts), all golfers should understand that golf-related injuries may still occur. The worst thing about golf-related injuries? You can’t get out and play or you don’t play as well. Below is a discussion about the most common golf related injuries and then a few suggestions on how to protect yourself so you can continue to enjoy what surely is a “study of lifetime.”
Three Most Common Golf-Related Injuries
According to a 2008 report prepared by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, the three most common golf-related injuries are: (1) low back pain; (2) elbow injuries; and (3) wrist injuries. Low back problems often derive from the “powerful rotation and extension motion in the golf swing.” This AOSSM report further provides that, unlike low back pain, which may occur even with perfect swing mechanics, elbow injuries are often the result of poor swing mechanics, especially fat shots or over-swinging with the lead hand. Finally, wrist injuries are generally attributed to overuse or lack of conditioning.
One does not have to play much golf before realizing that despite its reputation as a low-impact sport, golf is very much a sport, requiring physical conditioning and good technique, in order to keep one’s body free of pain. Indeed, these golf-related injuries can be avoided, and one does not have to run sprints, or lift heavy weights, or swim laps to do it. The following are three general suggestions for avoiding these common injuries in golf.
1. Proper Warm Up Routine
Sometimes schedules are such that in order to get a round of golf in, you find yourself going from office, to car, to the first tee. It’s easy at that point to simply “tee it high and let it fly” without implementing any warm up routine. On the other hand, many warm up routines involve a trip to the putting green, maybe a few balls on the driving range, and then on to the first tee. However, both routines overlook an essential aspect of preparing to play golf: stretching.
Think for instance of a time when you’ve been challenged by someone to a foot race. What’s your first reaction? Stretch the hamstrings and the quads, right? Before a round of golf, our reaction should be the same. The muscles most utilized in the golf swing need to be properly warmed up.
According to FITforeGolf, the following muscle areas should all be stretched as part of your go-to warm up routine: hamstring, quadricep, groin, hip flexor, trunk, shoulders, forearms, and wrists. A helpful description of proper stretches for these areas of the body can be found here.
Limbering up before a round of golf is a sure-fire way to prevent golf-related injuries. Odds are you will also play better by adding meaningful stretching to your warm-up routine.
2. Proper Technique
There are many golf swings. Videos abound of celebrities and professional golfers who have developed unique swing mechanics. Some of them have been able to adapt their different swings and play well. However, a major risk of developing a fundamentally unsound golf swing is injury. The above-referenced AOSSM report emphasizes that “[i]nstruction by a golf pro to improve technique is one of the best ways to decrease your chances of being injured.”
Game-improvement aside, golf-related injuries may be avoided by taking advantage of professional golf instruction. The PGA/LPGA professionals at Bird Golf Academy are ready and willing to help you with this process.
3. Strength Training
Finally, certain exercises may also be implemented to strengthen muscle groups and build up overall endurance. These exercises should focus on the areas of the body mentioned above that are most susceptible to injury: lower back, wrists, and elbows. They are different from the exercises commonly touted as the best to improve your play, which focus more on the hips, glutes, and major leg muscle groups. Nevertheless, no amount of strength can make up for a nagging wrist or elbow injury. Therefore, taking the time to build up strength in these smaller muscle groups is essential to a strong body and a strong golf game.
In sum, golf truly is the “study of a lifetime.” By taking time to ensure that your body can handle the unique stresses of the sport, you will better ensure you can keep playing for years to come.