The concept of golf seems fairly simple; hit a stationary ball with a golf club into a relatively open space. What could possibly go wrong? Injuries…
Although the game of golf is considered a low-risk sport, injuries happen to golfers of all skill levels. Whether you’re shooting under par or slicing uncontrollably, warming up and good techniques in your swing are the key components to preventing injuries.
The golf swing is a complex, synchronized series of movements involving many parts of the body. When poor techniques are used and overused or the club makes direct contact with the ground or tree root, acute or overuse injuries can develop. For most golfers, the hand, wrist and elbow are primary targets for injury; however, the shoulder, knees and lower back are also vulnerable to injury.
Common upper extremity golf injuries include:
- Sprains and strains to the ligaments of the wrist, elbow and shoulder.
- Wrist tendonitis which is a condition characterized by irritation and inflammation of the tendons.
- Medial epicondylitis often referred to as golfer’s elbow, is a form of tendinosis which is triggered by swelling and tenderness on or around the extensor tendons.
- Fractures of the hand or wrist when a forceful swing hits the ground or tree root, stopping the swing abruptly.
The origins for such injuries are often due to poor flexibility and conditioning, excessive play and practicing, poor swing mechanics or ground impact. Often golfers who lack strength in the forearm are also more susceptible to wrist and hand injuries.
Whether you are an avid golfer or a beginner, it is essential to warm up before every round and to develop a solid swing technique. Focus on stretching and flexibility by performing at least 10 minutes of warm up exercises which will increase your range of motion (ROM) and lead to a more fluid golf swing, thus reducing the stress on the involved joints and muscles. Never just grab the driver and go. Stretch first and then hit a few balls starting with your wedge first and making your way up to the driver to help prevent golfing injuries from happening.
Additional course hazards may include too much sun exposure. Be careful to limit yourself and use sunscreen. Wearing sunglasses to filter out UVA and UVB rays and a hat or visor to shade your eyes and face are additional precautions for a fun-filled leisurely trip to the links.