Top 11 Most Common Golf Injuries

Golf is obviously not meant to be a contact sport, and so one would think injuries would be rare. It is true that golfers usually don’t get hurt while walking or riding around the course, but most injuries happen gradually over time as a result of over doing it or  bad mechanics that cause undue stress on the body. Arthritis and other illnesses are also a contributor to overuse injuries. The most common issues golfers have related to injuries are the lower back, elbow, wrist, hand and shoulder, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Here are some of the most common injuries that happen to golfers:

Lower back pain from over use and poor posture is the most common golf injury.  The golfer’s stance and swing are the culprits, and putting also puts a strain in the lower back. Arthritis is a contributor as well. To combat this work on having a smoother swing, get more exercise and don’t carry your own golf bags.

Elbow injuries are also common, and another one that shows up over time. This is caused by bad form that puts the elbow at risk with too much stress.   Golfers elbow is essentially the same thing as tennis elbow. As it supports the movement of the hands and shoulders, it must withstand extra stress. Stretching, wearing a brace and getting a golf lesson can help with this injury.

Wrist injuries are also common, and related to the elbow type injury. Overuse can also damage a wrist over time. Working on making the muscles more flexible in the hand and forearm can help with this type injury, and when it flares up, rest is the best medicine.

Shoulders  are a common injury because they are the most used muscles in the golfer’s swing. The latissimus, pectoralis and subscapularis muscles in the shoulders are the ones that work the hardest while playing. Rotator cuff damage can also occur if you keep playing with these injuries. Warming up a lot, exercises to stay loose, a good stance and not overdoing it are the best ways to avoid this type of injury.

Hands can also be injured, and this is different than a wrist injury. Fingers can actually get a stress fracture if you have a bad grip and play too much. Also your hand can get pulled muscles if you are overcompensating for a wrist injury, compounding your overall issue.  Having the proper trip and not over doing it are key to preventing hand injuries.

Neck strain is another injury that can happen.  An improper swing, or even an improper stance can cause extra pressure on your neck and create muscle strain. Poor posture can also create extra stress on your neck.  A better stance and swing will help, along with stretching to loosen up the muscles.

Bursitis is a chronic condition that golf can aggravate.  Bursitis is an inflamation near the joints in tissues and muscles. It is often caused by overuse, and it can become so painful that it can stop your game. Often rest is the best answer, though it tends to flare up again when the muscles are used too much.

Sunburn and heatstsroke.   Heatstroke is not that common, but does happen. It can happen to anyone when you get dehydrated and are out in the heat too long. With the prevalence of golf carts, and drinking alcohol while playing, it is easy to not realize you are too hot until it is too late.  Sunburn is not often thought of as an injury, but it is. Obviously getting too much sun can burn your skin and cause a lot of pain. Wearing sunscreen can prevent most cases of sunburn, Also wear covering like a hat, and avoid playing in the hottest part of the day.

Foot and ankle injuries. This is a less common injury, but there is a lot of pressure on your ankles when teeing off or hitting a long shot.  Injuries can happen when you lose you footing on a swing. This is one of the cases where you can get hurt while actually swinging the golf club, as opposed to an injury developing over time. Wearing good golf shoes and keeping good footing are keys to preventing this.

Hip injuries to the joint can also happen. The hips are designed to carry a lot of the load your body needs, but the golf swing puts extra pressure there. The swing involves a twisting motion to your hips, an that makes them vulnerable to muscle strain. A poor swing can strain a muscle and cause an injury, either immediately or as a stress injury. Warming up, as well a making sure your swing is proper, can help prevent this type injury.

Rib pain is another injury that plagues golfers. When you have poor technique on your swings, or just play too much golf in one day, you can end up with some serious pain in the rib area. The injury can be as simple as bruising from repetitive stress or as serious as a cracked rib. Using the proper technique prevents this one from happening to you.

Golf experts agree most injuries are caused by poor posture and a poor swing of the golf club. Improving one’s mechanics, along with being loosened up through stretching are the most effective ways to avoid almost all injuries related to playing golf. Avoiding extra long practice sessions, an not over doing it, going beyond what you can really handle, is also a great way to avoid injury.

Adam Jenkins
 

I’m certainly no expert on the game of golf, but I am someone who knows what it’s like to start out completely overwhelmed. From one beginner to the next, here's to a better golf game!

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