As with all sports, there are some injuries in which players are particularly prone. Interestingly in golf, we see similar injuries in both professionals and amateurs, but for very different reasons.
We’re going to look at what these injuries are, why they happen and, most importantly, what amateur golfers can do to prevent them.
The most common injuries for golfers are strains and lower back injuries, mainly upper body, with the most predictable area for injury being the lower back followed by the wrist, shoulder and elbow.
For professionals, overuse is the main culprit, which is not surprising since golfers are playing for ten hours a day, six days a week. Tiger Woods is a perfect example of what can happen to a lower back with overuse and not allowing a bit of rest even after surgery - he had to shut down the remainder of his 2014 golf season.
For golf beginners and amateurs however, the causes tend to be poor technique in the swing, hitting the ground with the club and miss-hits.
Poor golf swing technique:The golf swing is the most problematic area for golfers who sustain injuries - it’s an action that takes the body through a large range of motion, a huge amount of force is used and it’s repetitive.
For professionals, it’s clear to see how injuries can be sustained over time carrying out this sort of an action no matter how efficient their swing is and however well-adapted they are to their sport.
For amateurs, making errors in the swing can cause instant injuries, from the high impact experienced by joints and tissue when they hit the ground with the club. Amateurs also may be prone to these injuries if they are otherwise sedentary. They may have muscle weaknesses and lack flexibility leaving the joints and muscles unable to handle the sudden forces a swing puts on the body.
Over half of golfers miss games when recovering from their injuries.
When injuries do occur, professional golfers are notorious for continuing to play since the stakes are high and it’s the way they make their living. Doing this can lead to more serious injuries and ultimately more time out of the game spent in recovery!
Over half of golfers who sustain injuries will need to miss some games. Facts are, thirty percent of injured golfers will need treatment for one to two weeks and twenty-one percent will need treatment lasting over five weeks which, for a passionate golfer, whether professional or not, is a long time not to be doing something that they love.
Coaching to improve your golf swing can help prevent injuries.
Some injuries can affect a golfer’s ability long-term, so taking preventative measures are not only simple, they’ll keep you playing your best for a longer period of time.
Here are a few tips to help you prevent the most common golfing injuries:• Get coaching to improve your swing. This will make you more efficient and help you avoid things like hitting the ground or mis-hits that can easily cause injury.
• Keep in shape. If you can keep strong and flexible off the golf course, your body is going to be in a much better position to take the forces and strains you put on it on the course. A balanced program of cardio, strength and flexibility training will keep you at the top of your game.
• Warm-ups before a game and stretches afterwards will ease you in safely. The Apostherapy golf infographic below has some great stretches and exercises to perform before you get stuck into a game that will prep the body for what’s to come.
Of course, sometimes an injury is unavoidable. If you should get injured during a round, then stop playing immediately and seek medical attention.
Suspect a strain or sprain? Follow first aid instructions:
- Protect the affected area/joint by stoppping play immediately.
- Stop moving the joint, rest, apply an ice pack to reduce swelling.
- Compress the joint using a bandage to provide support to the area.
- Limit movement and elevate the joint, again to reduce swelling.
Follow your doctor’s advice and when you’re ready to begin playing again, be sure to ease yourself in gently to avoid further injury.
Author: Ed Butler, Clinical Lead, Apostherapy UK
After graduating with a degree in Physiotherapy, Ed has been working in the field of professional sports rehabilitation. His specialist interests include acute and chronic lower limb injuries for professional sportsmen and women.
What exercises do you perform to keep in your best shape for golf season? Comment below and join the discussion on Twitter @Golf4Beginners.