Golf is one of the few sports that spans all age groups and skill levels of its participants. For many golfers, it is a means of physical fitness, especially for those who choose to walk the course. The sport is unique in that skills and level of play may increase as the player advances through age. However, the generally low-impact sport can be associated with a variety of injuries which are typically a result of poor technique or overuse. Lower back injuries are most common, followed by elbow, shoulder, wrist and hand injuries. In fact, professional golfers have the highest incidence of back injury of all professional athletes. The “weekend golfer” is especially prone to injuries due to those attempts at colossal drives by means of brute force. To prevent injuries, medical researchers have provided the tips below:
Posture Makes Perfect: Feet should be shoulder-width apart, rotated outward slightly, knees slightly bent. Spine should be fairly straight and your trunk should tilt forward. Movement should come from your hips. Do not round your back.
Smooth Swinging: Be mindful of your entire body when you swing. Don’t overemphasize or rely too heavily on one joint or muscle. This will make you more susceptible to injuries.
Nice and Easy: Swinging the club too hard or too fast can put undue stress on your joints. Aim for consistency. Not speed.
Warm Up, Form Up!: Don’t forget that golf is a sport! Football players don’t take the field without putting in some good warm up time. Give your game the proper preparation with at least 10 minutes of brisk walking or jumping jacks. Stretch your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders and pelvis. Use your club as a stretching aid. Your body will thank you later.
Start Slow: Utilize your time at the driving range to not only practice your swing, but also to condition your body for the strain. Work up to a full swing by starting at the putting green, chipping area, and eventually to the range.
Pump Those Irons: The best pro golfers don’t have bulging muscles, but they don’t lack strength. Find a year-round strength training routine that works for you. Strong muscles are less prone to injury.
Flexibility Means Fluidity: A fluid golf swing comes from flexibility. Make sure you are regularly stretching, especially before and after your round.
Walking Only: Regular aerobic activity will increase your endurance on the course. Don’t lose that stamina after the turn. Forsake that cart once in awhile.
Heavy Load. Use Caution: Carrying your bag can cause higher rates of shoulder pain. The unevenly distributed weight can cause you to strain muscles before you even make it to the teebox. Make sure you use proper lifting technique, lifting with the force of your legs, not your back.
Aim for the Ball: Avoid elbow and wrist injuries by swinging only at the ball. Hitting the ground or the rough may cause you pain...along with some embarrassment.
Dress Responsibly: Your attire on the course should satisfy more than just the course dress code. Dress for the elements, and choose proper shoes. Choose golf shoes with short cleats. Long cleats dig into the ground, and don’t allow your feet to move as you swing. This often leads to knee and ankle injuries.
You may also consider taking professional lessons to improve your swing mechanics and avoid a golf-ending injury. If you have experienced an injury that has not improved with rest, see a physician. For injuries that do not improve with rehabilitation or nonsurgical treatment, surgical procedures may be beneficial and allow you to get back out on the course. Prevent injuries and stay in shape while enjoying the important social and physical outlets that golf provides.