Golf Related Injuries
According to the National Golf Foundation there are just under 13 million core golfers and over 27 million golfers in the U.S. and that number continues to grow. A typical golfer will play around 35 rounds a year not including all the time they spend practicing. As the game and base of players continues to expand it is not surprising that the number of golf related injuries is on the rise as well.
Lower Back Pain
The most common type of injury in both professional and amateur golfers is lower back pain, followed by injuries in the shoulders and elbows. It appears that professional golfers have more wrist injuries, while amateur golfers appear to suffer more elbow injuries. However, both of these groups appear to have high rates of shoulder injuries.
These injuries make sense when we look into the mechanics of a swing and the game of golf in general. Low back problems are usually caused by the rotation and extension motion that is utilized when swinging a golf club. By increasing the range of motion of the lumbar spine extension and rotation of the lead hip, you may be able to reduce lower back pain as indicated by a 2004 study referenced by the AOSSM. Also noted, golfers who carry their own bag are two times more likely to suffer back, shoulder and ankle injuries compared to golfers who do not.
Medial epicondylitis and lateral epicondylitis are the two most common problems associated with elbow injuries for golfers. Medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow, is thought to occur from golf swings in which the club hits the ground first. Lateral epicondylitis is thought to be caused by over-swinging. Both of these injuries arise from poor swinging mechanics and increase with age and frequency of play. It is important to stretch both the upper body and lower body to help decrease these problems, in addition learning how to correctly swing will also help.
The leading wrist is more commonly injured in golfers due to the overuse of the wrist flexor and extensor tendons. A good way to treat these injuries is through rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Splinting and anti-inflammatory medicines will also help. Most injuries are decreased when proper swing mechanics are learned and practiced. In addition, strength training for the forearm and hand muscles will help decrease these types of injuries.
The most active muscles in the shoulder during a golf swing are the suscapularis, pectoralis, and latisismus muscles. Simply, your rotator cuff muscles, pecs, and lats are essential to the swing mechanics. A bursitis and tendonitis in the shoulder, impingement syndrome, arthritis and rotator cuff problems are the most common shoulder problems. Like wrist injuries they are more prevalent in the leading arm of the swing. Warming-up and strength exercises that target these specific areas in the shoulder are good for recovery and prevention.