Golf is often deemed a low impact sport, physically at least, however that is not actually the case. Eighteen holes on a golf course, over a period of 3 or 4 hours will most likely be felt in your body the next morning, especially if you are not a regular player. Aches and pains through your shoulders, back and legs are pretty common.
A golf swing is a powerful and repetitive movement that requires a lot of strength, speed and flexibility. Weakness in the trunk muscles, limited spinal movement, incorrect technique and no warm up prior to playing can increase the likelihood of a golfing injury.
Common Golf Injuries
Due to the nature of the game and the movements involved, golf really is a whole-body sport. Therefore, a range of joints, muscles and tendons are susceptible to injury, particularly if you misplay a ball or don’t have good technique.
Pain felt in the shoulder or upper arm may be related to an injury to the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint. Hitting a golf ball with the force required combined with a poor swing, taking a deep divot or hitting a rock can put a lot of impact on the shoulder. These injuries may also be sustained from overuse, with the repetition resulting in bursitis or tears in the rotator cuff.
Lower Back Pain
The rotational forces transmitted through your spine with each golf swing, along with hours of being hunched over can contribute to significant pain in your lower back. Again, poor technique can be a factor because if you do not transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot as you swing the club, it will put increased tension on your lower back.
Your knees help to stabilise your body as your hips rotate while swinging, so poor strength and stability around the knee can put a lot of stress on the meniscus (the cartilage between the shinbone and thighbone), ligaments and other soft tissue around the knee.
Elbow Pain (Golfer’s Elbow)
Different to tennis elbow, which is pain on the outside of the elbow, golfer’s elbow is pain felt on the inside of the elbow. The predominant cause is doing too much too quickly and not letting the muscles and tendons adapt to the increased pressure gradually over a period of time. Using the wrist too much during a swing to increase your power will put extra demand on the elbow joint. It must be pointed out that a lot of golfers can suffer from tennis elbow too.
Feet and Hand Injuries
A common foot condition in golfers is plantar fasciitis, heel pain caused by excessive pronation (rolling in) of the feet. Inflammation under the arch of the foot can occur due to the excessive pressure feet are put under during a golf swing.
The ligaments in the hand and wrist can be damaged due to poor form or overuse, and even small fractures may occur when striking something hard such as a rock or tree root or even hard ground.
Physiotherapy to Treat Golf Injuries
A qualified sports physio experienced with golf injuries like one of the team at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy will be able to assist with your golfing injury regardless of the cause or severity. A thorough consultation will involve obtaining as much information from you about your sports injury, including how and when it was sustained, as well as any other current or past injuries.
Following a clear diagnosis and explanation, a tailored rehabilitation program of exercises will be created to strengthen the affected area while it is healing. Your physio will monitor your progress and slowly increase the exercises as you become stronger, tweaking your rehab program as needed so you heal optimally and safely.
If it is deemed necessary, your physio can refer you to a surgeon or other medical specialist for scans or further treatment.
Physio Can Prevent Golf Injuries
You don’t have to wait until you are injured before seeking the advice of a physio. They can also provide a screening assessment to cover a range of factors, including but not limited to, your muscle strength and power, joint mobility, load management and advice on technique. It makes sense to try to prevent any injuries in the first place, and you will also potentially improve your game!
Other important ways to help prevent golfing injuries are to check your technique to minimise unnecessary strain on the body, always warm up well, maintain overall body strength and endurance and allow your body to adapt slowly.
If you are keen to get back out on the golf course but you have some pain you need treated first, or want an assessment to improve your swing, call or book online with Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy. The friendly team here can offer you many services including physiotherapy for back pain, deep tissue massage, or soft tissue therapy, and will have you on the right path to be moving pain free as soon as possible.