There are two major types of golf injuries:
The first are acute injuries, for example, hitting a tree root with a club.
The second are overuse injuries, which usually are the result of poor biomechanics.
Acute injuries are the ones that are difficult to avoid, of course.
But overuse injuries can be avoided by looking at a couple of different issues. First of all, warming up properly. Secondly, not overswinging. Third, assessing swing mechanics. And perhaps most importantly, looking at the grip.
So What Are The Common Injuries In Golf?
1. Back Pain
The first is back pain. Because this is an asymmetric movement, the swing puts a lot of pressure on the spine and the lower back muscles. Incorrect stance with rounding of the back at address leads to an increase in the amount of force applied to the back and increases that strain.
2. Elbow Tendonitis
Elbow tendonitis is referred to as either tennis elbow, when there’s an injury to the tendon on the outside part of the elbow, that is the side that goes down to the thumb. Or golfer’s elbow, which is in the inner elbow, which is the side that goes down to the pinky finger.
Most often, in fact, golfers suffer from tennis elbow.
Often this is the result of gripping the club too hard. And of course, can simply be a product of volume — that is the number of swings.
So going out to the driving range and hitting five large buckets of balls after taking the entire winter off can definitely lead to this type of tendonitis.
3. Wrist Tendonitis
Wrist tendonitis can also be caused by a poor swing, gripping the club too hard, or not having built up enough strength in the forearms and wrists.
4. Rotator Cuff Injuries
Rotator cuff injuries cause shoulder pain. They usually occur because there’s a long lever, that is the club, swung outside of the plane of the body. And this increases the amount of force applied to the primary areas of rotation, primarily the shoulders. You’re at risk of injury if you don’t warm up properly or do an adequate amount of rotator cuff exercises.
5. Neck Injuries
Neck injuries are also very common in golf. Most often it’s because of poor position at address. The advice new golfers receive is to keep their eye on the ball during the swing, which leads them to tense up the neck muscles. And this, of course, can lead to inappropriate forces and injury.
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6. Finger Injuries
Finger injuries can happen as a result of an acute injury that is hitting something that you’re not meant to hit with the club, like a rock that you don’t see underneath the surface. Or a bad swing in a sand trap, for example.
Certainly, the repetitive stress of striking something while the club is in the hand means that those forces are translated up into the hands. And so again, hitting lots and lots of golf balls when you’re not ready for it can lead to these kinds of injuries.
7. Hip Injuries
Hip injuries can happen because the turn that is the movement of the body through the swing while making contact with the ball should really start from the lower body, such as the hips and the lower spine. If people stand incorrectly or slide the hip — which is a common error — this can lead to hip injuries.
8. Foot and Ankle Injuries
Ankle sprains are a consequence of poor ground upkeep or wet conditions. Things like tendonitis of the ankles or feet from all the walking can also occur along with blisters and poor foot structure. Most commonly, flat feet and inadequate support in golf shoes with something like custom foot orthotics can lead to certain types of injuries.
9. Knee Pain
Certainly, when we look at the average age of golfers, this is a time when people start to experience some breakdown of cartilage in their joints. And doing all the walking you do in golf can lead to some pain in relation to that.
Of course, even things like tendonitis from bending down or famous injuries to the knee like ACL (or anterior cruciate ligament injuries), can occur simply as a result of the force of twisting of the knee that occurs, especially in the lead leg with the golf swing. The most famous example of that, of course, is Tiger Woods.
And then finally, something people don’t think much about: sun-related injuries like sunburn.
That’s certainly a major consideration, and when taken to its extreme, can result in things like sunstroke or heat stroke. Likewise, melanoma or skin cancer can occur if people are not mindful of the amount of sun exposure and neglect using protection.
Notes on Preventing Golf Injuries
People often ask:
Is golf bad for the knees or is it hard on the back?
Can golf cause carpal tunnel syndrome?
Can I golf with a rotator cuff injury?
Certainly, these questions are important, and all come back to the idea of appropriate preparation, namely:
- Going through a golf conditioning program with a licensed physiotherapist.
- Having minor injuries assessed early by a sports medicine physician and then taking care of them appropriately through therapy or other means.
- Warming up adequately
- And of course, keeping yourself in generally good physical health
These things are all critically important to reduce the incidents of golf injuries.
Athletic Edge Sports Medicine is a leading Toronto-based sports medicine clinic. If you’re suffering from a golf-related injury, rest assured that we will treat your case with consummate professionalism and confidentiality. Contact us for an initial consultation.