Golf Injuries!

Why do they occur?

What is most common?

How do we prevent them?

Why do most golf injuries occur?

· Lack of flexibility

· Poor conditioning

· Excessive play or practice

· Poor swing mechanics

· Ground impact forces

· Intermittent play

Poor flexibility is a key risk factor for a golf injury. One survey showed that more than 80%of golfers spent less than 10 minutes warming up before a round. Those who did warm up had less than half the incidence of injuries of those who did not warm up before playing.

The golf swing is broken down into four phases: backswing, downswing, acceleration/ball strike, and follow through. Any limitations in range of motion (ROM) will hamper the golfer’s ability to achieve the proper swing plane, and therefore increase the amount of stress on the involved joints and muscles.

The second main reason for golf injuries is the repetitive nature of this sport. The golf swing involves repetitive, high-velocity movement of the neck, shoulders, spine, elbow, wrist, hips, knees, and ankles. The percentage of injuries directly correlates with the number of rounds or the number of range/practice balls struck per week.

What types of injuries are most common?

Acute injuries are usually the result of a single, traumatic episode, such as hitting the ground of a submerged tree root in a sand trap.

Overuse injuries are more subtle and usually occur over time. These injuries will more often stem from the stress that the golfer puts on the back and shoulders when swinging.

Approximately 44 percent of all reported golf injuries in golf are from overuse.

The three most commonly injured areas of the body are the back, hip, and knee.

Back Pain:

The forces placed on the low back with a golf swing are equivalent to up to eight times the body weight. This is an incredible load to bear and illustrates why low back injuries are the most common among golfers.

Just imagine if the risks of low back injuries were mentioned at the end of a television commercial for golf, just as they are with advertised medications…no one would ever take up the sport of golf! Fortunately, though, as athletes, we overcome the risks involved due to the love of the sport.

Common back injuries include:

· Muscle sprains

· Stress fractures

· Disc related Pathology

· Spondylolisthesis (slipping of the spine)

· Arthropathy (pathology of the joints)

Hip Pain:

As with upper extremity issues, the culprit activity for lower extremity injuries in golfers is frequently related to overuse and the exceptional forces placed on the joints. Additionally, since underlying arthritis is more common in the hip and knee, mechanical dysfunction can exacerbate injuries and pain.

Risk factors for hip injuries include low back pain and impaired internal rotation of the hips.  In particular, restricted internal rotation (clockwise movement of the left hip in a right handed golfer) hampers proper mechanics and often worsens pre-existing problems.

Common hip problems among golfers:

· Impingement syndromes

· Labral and cartilage damage

· Degenerative arthritis

Knee Pain:

In common with most sports, knee injuries are provoked when the forces involved exceed the ability of the tissues to withstand the trauma.

In golfers, the repeated rotation required during the swinging motion often challenges the knee ligaments and meniscus, causing injury.  Acute and chronic knee pain merits a medical evaluation when prolonged or severe.  In addition, proper technique is important to avoid the culprit movement or the problem will be sustained and, perhaps, worsened.

How do we manage & prevent injuries?

Injury prevention and management is key to enjoying golf.

The older athlete is at higher risk than the younger athlete who has the forgiveness of youth.  As athletes get older, learning how to manage injuries becomes increasingly important.

Key suggestions are summarized here:

1. Warm up and cool down with emphasis on back flexibility and hip internal and external rotation.

2. Review your mechanics with a professional so that abnormal mechanics can be corrected and culprit movements eliminated. Proper technique cannot be emphasized enough.

3. Manage injuries with rest, ice and compression and elevation. Rest does not mean for a few hours… use common sense and listen to your body.

4. See an expert who can provide you with hands on treatment and exercises to manage and prevent injuries.


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