Golf is a wildly popular sport which continues to grow steadily in participation every year. There are over 60 million golfers worldwide, with about half of them in the US. Although often perceived as a leisurely activity by non-golfers, golf is a physically demanding sport. The golfer’s athletic ability includes balance, coordination, and the right pattern of mobility and stability throughout the body. Strength, agility, and endurance are also imperative in order to play the game well. As in all sports, the high demand of athleticism can lead to significant injuries. Done appropriately, there are a lot benefits to golf both physically and socially. In addition, it can be enjoyed for a lifetime. This article will discuss some common golf injuries and injury prevention recommendations.
The most commonly cited reasons for injuries, are poor swing mechanics and overuse. This is followed by a single traumatic event such as hitting the ground, a tree root, or hitting the ball “fat”. For this reason, golf injuries can be divided into two categories:
1.) Cumulative microtrauma (overuse)
2.) Single traumatic event
Known risk factors for golf related injuries, can be summarized as follows:
- Excessive play or practice leading to overuse
- Striking a tree root, rock, thick rough, or the ground at impact
- Poor conditioning/training
- Lack of proper warm up before playing
- Poor swing mechanics or lack of proper instruction
As mentioned earlier, golf is a physically demanding sport, and that demand grows as the player’s skills grow. This is because highly skilled players tend to practice more, in order to improve. It is not uncommon for a professional player to hit over 2,000 shots per week in practice. The back, wrists, elbows, and shoulders are the most common sites of pain and injury in golf. It’s useful to work with golf instructors and healthcare professionals who understand the mechanics of the golf swing in order to best diagnose and treat a golf related injury such as:
The golf swing can be divided into these phases:
- Address: This is the starting point, when the golfer is squared up to the ball in an athletic stance with some bend to the hips and knees, and the golf club is gripped lightly. Poor posture and positioning here, can lead to swing faults and injury during the other phases of the golf swing.