Common Golf Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

As we swing into mid golfing season, it’s worth finding out about common golfing injuries and steps you can take to try and prevent them, leaving you to enjoy your golfing game to the full.

Although less fast and furious than some sports, golf is a sport and it requires some complex movements that could cause injury. Here we’ll discuss some golfing injuries that doctors and physiotherapists regularly see.


Back Injury

During a game of golf, you will use your back many times, from rotating when swinging a golf club, putter’s stance, bending over to pick up your ball and when carrying heavy golf bags. So it’s not surprising that back pain is by far the most common injury in golf. It can also be one of the most debilitating golfing injuries.

Pain will typically develop in your lower back, with the most common pain area being the right low back in right handed golfers. Many golfers have swing and putting faults that put great strain on their back that can lead to back pain.


Elbow tendonitis

Elbow tendonitis is the irritation and inflammation of tendon tissue in your elbow and is common in golfers, especially in their dominant arm.

Tennis elbow is an injury to the outer tendon and is thought to be caused by over-extending your swing. Pain from tennis elbow is around your outer elbow and your forearm.

Golfer’s elbow is an injury to the inner tendon and can be caused by striking the ground first during your shot, or overusing your forearm muscles to grip, flex, and rotate your wrist and arm when you swing. Pain from golfer's elbow will be focused on the inside of the elbow and forearm.


Knee pain

Knee pain can be caused overtime by the excessive strain and repetition placed on vulnerable knee joints to stabilise the rotation of your hip at the beginning of your swing.

Common golfers knee injuries include ACL and meniscus tears. These can result in severe pain.


Shoulder pain

Golf puts a lot of strain on the muscles, tendons, and joints in your shoulders and they are susceptible to overuse injuries such as inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons, impingement syndrome and arthritis, and strain and sprain injuries. In extreme cases, you can even dislocate your shoulder if your swing is too aggressive.

Shoulder injuries can be very painful and affect your swing.


Wrist injuries

The repetitive motions of golf and a high speed swing can cause overuse of your extensor and flexor wrist tendons especially in your lead arm.

DeQuervain's tendonitis is one of the most common wrist injuries in golf. It’s an inflammation of the tendons in the wrist closest to your thumb caused by gripping your club and turning your wrist whilst swinging.


How to prevent golfing injuries

Many golfing injuries are preventable. Here we have some tips for you to follow that will help you to stay in shape and pain free on the course.


Warm up

You should make time to warm up for at least ten minutes before you start to practice your swing or play a round of golf.

A brisk walk is often the best warm up. Make sure you stretch your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine and pelvis. After your warm up, swing your golf club a few times and gradually increase your range of motion.

The looser your muscles are before you play, the less likely you are to sustain an injury.


Practice good swing mechanics

Your entire body is used when you swing your golf club. When playing golf this movement is frequently repeated and it can put significant stress on the same muscles, tendons and joints. Over time, this can cause injury.

You need to understand the mechanics behind your swing. A poor swing can cause or aggravate an injury. Try not to over swing as swinging too hard or fast can stress your joints. You should relax and take an easy, consistent swing at the ball. Practice may also reduce the number of swings on the course and result in less force on your back, shoulder, wrist, knees and elbows.

Golf swing power comes when force is transferred smoothly through all of your muscle groups, from your ankles to your wrists. Relying on one part of your body for your hitting power may result in injury.

It may be worthwhile consulting a swing coach for lessons to learn essential advice, ensure you are using the correct swing, and it may improve your scores.


Gradually build up your golf fitness

You may be tempted to practice your golf swing for hours but this repetitive practice could put strain on your body. You should gradually work up your level of activity.

It’s also worth engaging in other sporting activities that will increase your general fitness and improve your staying power on the course. You could try walking, jogging, cycling or swimming.

Improving your range of motion in all areas of your body can directly affect the pressure put on your joints.


Strengthen and stretch your muscles

Strong muscles will improve your club speed, prevent them from wearing down during long games and causing pain, and they are less prone to injury. It’s advisable to do strengthening exercises all year-round.

Regular stretching can improve your flexibility and range of motion and can help with a more fluid golf swing.


Proper posture is important

It’s important that you maintain the correct posture while swinging your clubs and putting the ball.  Often golfers hunch over into a forward posture and this can cause your body to overcompensate to keep you balanced when you swing, resulting in neck and back pain. Poor posture can result in back arthritis in the long term.

Good posture includes: standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and rotated slightly outward, and your knees slightly bent. You should keep your spine relatively straight and your trunk tilted forward. Most of the movement should come from your hips.


Think about how you carry and lift your clubs

Ensure you use proper lifting techniques when carrying your golf bag. Clubs are heavy and improper lifting can cause injury. Keep your back straight and use your legs to lift.

If you have a back or shoulder pain already you may consider asking someone else to carry your bags and using a golf cart.


Try to always hits the ball

Golfers can often hit the ground or rough. This can jolt your body and cause elbow, wrist, shoulder and back injuries.


Ensure you have the correct kit appropriate to your needs

Dress appropriately so that you are comfortable and protected against the weather. It’s advisable to wear golf shoes with short cleats to reduce strain on your knees and ankles.

If you use steel clubs you may consider changing to lighter, graphite clubs to reduce strain in your body during play.

When the sun is out make sure you apply sun screen, wear sunglasses that filter out UVA and UVB rays and a hat with a visor.

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