Golf is a great game… It is one of my favorite sports. It is a terrific activity to consider as we all adjust to our new norms… it allows for social distancing, it is outdoors in a wide-open space and if you walk the greens, it’s a great opportunity to get your cardio going.
Although golf is considered a low impact sport, it is associated with a fair share of injuries. Most golf injuries are the result of poor mechanics and overuse. The most common areas of injury for golfers are the:
The golf swing is a complex and coordinated movement… it requires your entire body to execute the proper swing. Repeated stress upon these muscles and tendons can ultimately lead to injury. Understanding the mechanics behind your golf swing are crucial… not only can it prevent injury, but it can improve your game. Key strategies to prevent injury and improve your swing, include:
- Use proper posture.
- Feet shoulder-width apart and rotated slightly outward
- Knees slightly bent.
- Spine should remain relatively straight
- Tilt your trunk forward
- Work all your muscle groups. Do not rely too much on one part of your body for your hitting power. Overuse causes strain which results in injury.
- Slow and Steady. Swinging too hard or too fast, results in stressing out joints. Control and consistency are key to a good swing
Injury prevention in golf is not just about the swing. By following simple steps, you can lower your risk of injury:
- Warm up and Stretch. Take about 10 minutes to warm up and stretch before tee time. Regular stretching can improve your range of motion and leads to a consistent and fluid golf swing.
- Strengthen your muscles. The stronger your muscles, the greater your club speed and less prone you are to injury.
- Stay fit. Maintaining regular aerobic activity, like jogging, walking, or biking can increase your endurance and improve your game. Walk the course instead of catching the cart.
- Lift and carry your bags, carefully. Keep your back straight and bend and lift using your legs. Make sure that if you are walking and carrying the course, that your golf bag’s strap(s) are properly adjusted and that the weight of the bag is evenly distributed.
Choose proper footwear. Dress for comfort and protection from the elements. Shoes should have a snug, comfortable fit. There are a lot of options- cleats or without… try them on and determine what best suits your game.
Although knee and hip injuries are less common in golf, they do exist and are often the result of exacerbating an old injury. Certain movements in the game of golf often cause strain on previous injuries, while at the same time these same movements can cause new strains and pains.
Other precautions to consider while out on the course are:
- Protect yourself against sun exposure. Be sure to wear sunscreen and reapply throughout the day when necessary.
- Wear sunglasses to protect against UVA/UVB rays.
- Hydrate and recognize the signs of heat exhaustion: headache, dizziness confusion, muscle cramps, nausea.
The best thing you can do to prepare and prevent golf injuries is to strive to practice healthy mechanics and work to strengthen your muscles and tendons on and off the course. It may be a good idea to take a lesson from time to time… a golf pro may be able to identify how you can improve your overall mechanics and ultimately strengthen your game. Do not play through the pain…. If pain persists, make sure to discuss it with your family doctor or consult an orthopedic surgeon. Golf is a passion for me… it challenges me, and I think most of my fellow golfers always strive to improve their game… It is a game for the mind, mechanics, patience, and spirit. Have fun, stay safe, take your iron, and live on the greens.
Val Irion, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and joint replacement. He is an avid golfer and when time allows, he takes advantage of time to improve his game. To schedule an evaluation with Dr. Irion or the team at Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana, please visit: orthopedicspecialistla.com.