What to do about common injuries in golf
Rory McIlroy recently pulled out of this year’s Open Championship due to an uncommon golf injury.
But if you spend more time swinging at a little white ball than kicking at an inflated pig’s bladder, what injuries should you be wary of?
Here we take a look at some of the more common golf injuries. We look at how they can be treated and give a couple of tips on how to minimise them.
What are the most common injuries in golf?
The single most common injury is lower back pain. This, unsurprisingly, is followed by injuries to the elbow and shoulders. Amateur golfers tend to have more problems with their elbows, whilst the pros are vulnerable to wrist injuries.
Although the golf swing is a short duration and powerful movement, the majority of injuries are over-use injuries as opposed to acute injuries. In other words, it is the small mistakes that you make repeatedly that put you most at risk.
The low back problems often occur due to the unusual trajectory of a golf swing. The power is sent through the legs prior to the lower back simultaneously twisting and extending. This is a particularly unnatural movement.
Unfortunately, the lumbar region of the spine isn’t well designed for these combined forces. And the problem is exacerbated by the reduced flexibility that sitting at a desk most of the day induces.
The elbow and shoulder injuries tend to be a result of bad swing mechanics. Elbow injuries in particular are often the result of hitting the ground before the ball.
Looking after common golf injuries
Once you feel a back, elbow or shoulder injury coming on you should immediately stop your golf and undergo a period of rest. Even mild exertion at this stage can further inflame the muscle.
In most cases it is wise to ice the area concerned. This should be done in short repeated sessions to bring down any inflammation. It’s also advisable to take something like Ibuprofen to reduce any swelling to a minimum.
Check up with your physician or GP before you start playing again, just to make sure you haven’t done anything that has caused more lasting damage.
How to prevent common golf injuries
For the lower back the key is to increase mobility and flexibility in that area. This includes decreasing tension in the areas close to the lower back such as the hips, glutes and the upper back. Deep tissue massage is definitely a good way to loosen up these areas.
It also important to be thorough in your warm up when you get to the golf course. The warm up should last at least 10 minutes and should include some easy swings of a 7-iron on the practice range to gradually increase range of motion.
To help prevent shoulder injuries it is important to incorporate strengthening exercises into your preparations. Work at strengthening the large muscles of the back and chest (the lats and the pecs). But most importantly build strength in the often neglected muscles of the rotator cuff. Try some exercise with a resistance band to strengthen these muscles.
With regard to your elbow, definitely work at exercises that increase your grip strength. Pull ups and assisted pull ups will certainly help. But above all, invest in some more golf lessons to make sure your technique is not letting you down. A small investment in good technique could save hours of painful physiotherapy!