The sport of golf has experienced an increase in popularity over the last 15 years. The National Golf Foundation’s records show an estimated 28.6 million golfers in the United States alone. Locally, the Carolinas Golf Association is the second largest golf association in the country with 685 member clubs represented by over 150,000 individuals. North Carolina is home to more than 400 golf courses, so needless to say it’s a popular sport here in the Tar Heel State.
The average golfer typically plays approximately 37 rounds per year and spends many more days practicing, so it is not surprising that the rate of golf injuries is on the rise. At Dynamic Health, we provide the same level of sports performance services for the recreational and the elite athlete alike. We recognize the complex nature of sports-related injuries and combine all of our pain treatment protocols to create a systematic plan to correct the cause of your injury.
As Charlotte’s premier pain management clinic, we find that a high number of golfers experience overuse injuries, like “golfer’s elbow” or back injuries when they play for extended periods of time. For casual golfers, improper or inadequate technique and physical training may also cause overuse injuries.
While overuse injuries make up a large portion of golf injuries, the good news is that these injuries can be prevented with some changes to technique and training regiments. In this week’s blog, we’ll take a look at common tennis injuries and how you can help prevent them!
Types of Golf Injuries
There are some unusual injuries associated with golfing. Errant backswings frequently deal blows to golfing partners. Golf clubs thrown in anger or disgust often injure their owners or others in proximity. Golfers also suffer bone-jarring sensations when their clubs strike the ground during a misplaced swing.
Low Back Pain – is the most common injury or complaint among both professional and amateur golfers, followed by injuries to the upper extremities (elbow and shoulder). Professional golfers experience a higher number of wrist injuries, and amateur golfers experience more elbow problems. Both groups have a relatively high rate of shoulder injuries.
Low back problems can occur as a result of the powerful rotation and extension motion in the golf swing. In elite golfers the golf swing can generate club head speeds of over 120 mph. In a study of PGA golfers, 33 percent had experienced low back problems of greater than two weeks’ duration in the past year.
Elbow Pain – is the second most commonly injured area in golfers. The two most common problems are medial epicondylitis (also known as golfer’s or thrower’s elbow) and lateral epicondylitis (more commonly known as tennis elbow). Both are thought to occur as a result of poor swing mechanics. Medial epicondylitis is thought to be caused by hitting shots “fat” (that is, hitting the ground first), and lateral epicondylitis may be caused by over-swinging with the right hand in right-handed golfers. Both of these problems increase with age and frequency of play. Good pre- round stretching of the upper extremity and a good strengthening program have been shown to decrease these problems.
In professional golfers, injuries to the low back are followed in incidence by injuries to the wrist. The lead wrist (left wrist in right-handed golfers) is most commonly injured. The majority of golf injuries are overuse injuries of the wrist flexor and extensor tendons. Such overuse injuries are treated with rest, splinting and either oral anti-inflammatory medicines or steroid injections. Therapy exercises, altering swing mechanics and strengthening the forearm and hand muscles have also been shown to be beneficial.
Shoulder Pain – is common because there are specific muscles in the shoulder that are most active in the swing. These are the subscapularis (one of the rotator cuff muscles), pectoralis (“pecs”) and latissimus (“lats”) muscles. Impingement syndrome (a bursitis and tendonitis in the shoulder), rotator cuff problems, and arthritis are the most common shoulder problems. These occur most frequently in the lead arm. A good warm-up routine and specific exercises that target the shoulder can help decrease the incidence of these injuries.
Warming up before golfing has been shown to decrease the incidence of golf injuries. Studies show that over 80 percent of golfers spend less than 10 minutes warming up before a round. Those who properly warm up have less than half the incidence of injuries of those who do not warm up before playing. Lower handicap and professional golfers are more than twice as likely to warm up for more than 10 minutes as compared to other golfers.
Many of the problems mentioned above can be improved by using good swing mechanics. Instruction by a golf pro to improve ￼technique is one of the best ways to decrease your chances of being injured. A regular exercise program that includes core strengthening, stretching and strengthening all the major muscle groups can also help decrease your injury rate and increase your playing time.
Charlotte Sports Performance
If you are suffering from golf injuries or sports-related aches and pains, Dynamic Health provides sports performance treatments and programs. We offer new client appointments within one to three days, and we are one of the only pain management clinics to provide imaging-guided injections without a long wait.
If you would like to have us speak at a corporate health fair or provide a community screening, please fill out our registration form or call 704-525-6288 ext. 6209.