Golf Injuries – Prevention and Treatment

Lawrence S. Miller, MD
Director, Cooper Bone and Joint Institute
Director, Sports Medicine Program

Golfing can be a relaxing sport for many, but common injuries can occur in the casual golfer. Golf is a full body sport – your swing and stroke involves your entire body. Injuries occur in many different places, the most common occurring in the low back, elbows and shoulders.

Low back injuries occur during the movement of the golf swing. This area of your body is subjected to several forces: lateral bending, shearing, compression and rotation. Amateurs often swing harder, instead of more skillfully, to hit the ball farther. This increase of force puts stress on your body and can lead to low back injuries. As you age, the chances increase for developing arthritis of your spine, leading to less flexibility. Good body and swing mechanics are essential for the prevention of low back injuries.

Golfer’s elbow, known as medial epicondylitis, is due to an overuse of the muscles located on the inside of the elbow. Golfers experience pain on the inside of the elbow, when they push their hands together, as well as tenderness on the boney bump located on the inside of your elbow. This injury is usually due to an increased number of rounds played per week, a strong grip on the clubs, and taking large divots.

Shoulder injuries usually occur by overuse rather than any specific component of the swing itself. The leading shoulder is subject to an extreme range of motion which increases the risk of injury including shoulder muscle strains, bursitis or rotator cuff tendonitis or tears.

Like many sports related injuries, prevention starts with proper warm up, stretching exercises that are specific to golf, strengthening exercises with an endurance base, and the utilization of good body mechanics and swing mechanics. Utilization of proper equipment is also a necessity. A five minute warm-up prior to playing is essential, with an emphasis on the wrists, shoulders and back.

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