Common Golf Injuries

Golf is a popular sport, particularly in the older population. It is a great low-impact sport that provides an opportunity to stay active with less stress on the joints. However, because it is low-impact doesn’t necessarily mean that golfers are not at risk for injury. These injuries have been associated with lack of warm-up, poor trunk flexibility and strength, faulty swing technique, and overuse. Most injuries sustained by professional golfers relate to overuse. However, the majority of injuries experienced by amateur golfers are due to faulty swing mechanics and muscle imbalance, which makes understanding the golf swing necessary when trying to reduce injuries in the amateur population. The golf swing can be divided into the setup, backswing, transition, downswing, and follow-through. Because of the large release of energy during the downswing and the deceleration of that energy during the follow-through, these phases are responsible for most injuries in golf. Of course, the importance of the other phases cannot be overlooked because faulty mechanics during setup, backswing, and transition may contribute to faulty mechanics during the downswing and follow-through.

What are the causes of golfer’s injury?

  • Poor mechanics/ overuse and excessive practice.
  • Poor swing mechanics.
  • Over-swinging.
  • Not warming up the muscles properly.
  • Rotational stresses placed on the spine.
  • Incorrect grip and setup.
  • Traumatic force to the body resulting from a poorly executed swing.

Types of injury

Common injuries are seen in the lower back, elbow, shoulder, hip and knee. Others include head and eye, neck injury and sunburn.

  • Elbow injuries: Elbow injuries are common in golfers. It accounts for 25–33% of all injuries in amateurs and 7–10% of all injuries in professionals. Tendinitis (irritation and inflammation of the tendon tissue) is the most common condition affecting the elbow. Although injury to the flexor tendon at the medial epicondyle is commonly called “golfers elbow”, it is the lateral epicondyle (“Tennis Elbow”) that is the site of more golf-related injuries.
  • Shoulder injuries: The shoulder goes through a large range of motion including a large degree of left shoulder horizontal adduction and right shoulder external rotation in the backswing. However, overuse of the shoulder in the form excessive practice can produce problems of the shoulder, including but not limited to: subacromial impingement, rotator cuff pathology, acromioclavicular dysfunction, glenohumeral instability and arthritis.
  • Low back pain: The rotational stresses of the swing can place considerable pressure on the spine and muscles. Compound that with the fact that golfers spend four to five hours in a bent-over stance, repeating the same motion hundreds of times, it is no wonder that playing golf can cause minor strains in the back that can easily lead to severe injuries.
  • Hand/wrist injuries: Wrist injuries commonly occur at the impact point of the golf swing and may result from hitting an object other than the ball. The injury is the result of the sudden change in load applied to the club, and subsequently the golfer, resulting in tissue disruption to the hands and wrist.
  • Knee Injuries:  Knee pain can occur from the strain placed on a weak knee to stabilize the rotation of the hip axis at the beginning of the swing. Extreme force placed on the knee can result in torn ligaments. Arthritis sufferers may experience more knee problems because the degenerative nature of the disease, which results in a gradual wearing of joint cartilage.

How do you prevent injuries in golfers?

  • Consult with a professional to improve your technique.
  • Conditioning and strengthening of core muscles as well as improving flexibility can improve swing techniques.
  • Gradually progress the duration of play and training to avoid overuse.
  • Ensure you properly warm up and stretch before playing.
  • Use the right equipment.

How can physiotherapy help with golfer’s injuries?

The type of physiotherapy management depends on the type of injury and the stage of the injury. However, an experienced musculoskeletal physiotherapist can treat all golf-related injuries using one of the following means 

  • Improving muscle strength and condition of the core muscles.
  • Manual therapy
  • Develop a general fitness program
  • Taping
  • Electrotherapy
  • Motor re-education – improving the mechanics of movements.  

If you are feeling any type of pain or discomfort before, during, or after playing golf, you can contact us at Physio Centers of Africa for a complete diagnosis of your condition and a recommended treatment program. We will help you avoid golf injuries by improving your general condition and showing you the proper way to warm up before golfing as well as guide you to improve your swing and body mechanics.

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