Common Golf Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Golfers, as you likely know, are prone to certain golf injuries of the muscles and joints—a result of the repetitive motions involved in each swing, among other causes. So how do you prevent golf injuries, and what are some common sense steps you can take to make things better when faced with them? We’re sharing some here; though seeking professional medical advice is always the best (and safest) course of action if you have serious or sudden pain or injury.

Lower Back

The most common complaint and golf injury among golfers is lower back pain, as your swing and stance—especially while putting—put great strain on this area. There can be a number of causes, including arthritis, spinal disc problems, and stress fractures.

Prevention and Treatment

  • The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), citing a 2004 study, asserts that “increasing the range of motion of lumbar spine extension and rotation of the lead hip” may help prevent some incidents of lower back pain. In other words, work on your swing.
  • Have someone else carry your bag. Studies suggest that people who shoulder it themselves are more prone to back and ankle injuries.
  • Exercises that strengthen the muscles in your torso may help.
  • For more serious afflictions, professional medical treatment—including surgery—may be necessary.

Elbows

The second most commonly injured body part for golfers is the elbow. One frequent culprit is golfer’s elbow, a.k.a. medial epicondylitis, which can be caused by striking the ground first during your shot. Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is believed to be caused by over-extending your swing.

Prevention and Treatment

  • As both elbow injuries are primarily caused by bad form, you can often prevent both by working on your swing. Seeking a lesson from a PGA pro may help, especially if you mention your issue first.
  • Stretching and strength training have been shown to cut down on these types of injuries.
  • A brace may be used to during play if symptoms are relatively mild. For moderate pain, icing afterwards and rest may help.

Wrists

The lead wrist used in your golf swing is most frequently injured by overuse of the extensor and flexor tendons.

Prevention and Treatment

  • Again, working on form and strengthening the muscles in the hand and forearm can help decrease this type of injury.
  • If you’ve already got a wrist injury, then rest along with a splint and anti-inflammatory medicines are commonly recommended.

Shoulders

The latissimus, pectoralis, and subscapularis muscles are primarily used during a golf swing—all located around or near the shoulder. The problems that can affect these shoulder muscles include arthritis, rotator cuff issues, and impingement syndrome (an inflammation of the tendons or the fluid-filled sacks between tendon and bone). Shoulder injuries can be chronic and can greatly influence your swing, especially as both shoulders move in drastically different ways as you swing.

Prevention and Treatment

  • A good warm-up routine, along with exercises that target the shoulder, can cut down on these problems.
  • Exercises that incorporate simple body twisting can help work on core stability and range of motion.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications and rest may help.

After all this research and our own experiences, we’ve come to the conclusion that beyond improving your swing mechanics, there’s a simple way to drastically cut down on the number of golf injuries you might experience while golfing: warm up. According to the AOSSM, one survey showed that up to 80 percent of golfers failed to warm up for at least ten minutes before a round. That’s a shame, because as the AOSSM noted, those who did “had less than half the incidence of injuries” when compared to those who didn’t. So before you head to that tee box, think about taking the time to warm up your body—it will thank you for it later!

One thought on “Common Golf Injuries and How to Avoid Them
  1. TriHeat says:

    I have been golfing for years shoulder and wrist pain have always been two of my biggest obstacles to having a good time when I’m out on the course. I have been using a product called triheat both before and after I play which has helped tremendously. I will also definitely warm up longer now after reading this article to further help my injuries. Thank you and great article!
    Stan

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