Avoid Golf Injuries, Says This Orthopedic Surgeon, With These Exercises

Print icon

With the weather improving and the greens finally dry, New Englanders are finding their way back to the golf course.

Golf offers many health benefits, including cardiovascular fitness and increased muscle tone that you get from walking 18 holes as well the enjoyment from being out in nature. And while a round of golf can seem like a leisurely walk in the park, there is still the potential for a wide range of injuries that can befall any player. Some of the most common injuries golfers experience are back, shoulder, knee, wrist and elbow injuries. Fortunately, many of these injuries can be prevented.

Back strains are the most common injuries reported in golfers.  This is likely due to inadequate preparation, both in the off-season and immediately prior to a golfing outing.  Golfing places a high demand on the low back muscles during putting and driving.

While putting, the back extensors must support the entire weight of the upper trunk and arms.  While driving, the back muscles must control high energy rotational forces to the spine that are unique to the sport. To reduce the risk of injury, it is important to have a sport specific preparation program. During the winter and spring as well as during the golf season, golfers should focus attention on strengthening their core muscles that provide stability to the spine.

Regular aerobic exercise also can help reduce the negative effects of fatigue during golfing. Prior to golfing, it is important to have a light dynamic warm up.  This includes gentle short duration stretches for the hamstrings and low back. Finally, the importance of a proper swing cannot be overemphasized as repetitive use of incorrect technique will predispose even the best conditioned golfer to injury.

Shoulder injuries are common in golfing.  The shoulder has a high degree of mobility and relies on coordinated muscle action to function properly.  As a result, strains or tears of the rotator cuff muscles can occur with the motion of the golf swing.  In many cases, an underlying rotator cuff injury may be present that is aggravated by repetitive hard swings.

The best preventative measure is to work on rotator cuff strengthening exercises along with strengthening of the muscles that attach to the shoulder blades.  Golfers should have a specific shoulder strengthening program during the winter and early spring for an adequate training effect prior to starting the golf season.  Again, technique is important in the prevention of shoulder injuries and most golfers would benefit from a golf swing analysis.

Tendonitis of the elbow affects many golfers. Although tendonitis on the inner part of the elbow (medial epicondylitis) has been designated as “golfer’s elbow”, it is just as common for golfers to experience tendonitis on the outer part of the elbow (lateral epicondylitis).  These injuries are due to overuse.  Gentle stretches and in some cases braces can be helpful for prevention and treatment of these injuries.

A variety of knee injuries are seen in golfers. In some cases, these are due to walking over uneven ground or losing footing in the rough.  In other cases these are due to the rotational forces that are transmitted from the lower extremities to the trunk during a swing.  Common injuries include ligament sprains and injury to the shock absorbing cartilage of the knee, the meniscus.

As with most golfing injuries, proper preparation can help to prevent them.  Along with the core and shoulder strengthening program, golfers should work on lower extremity conditioning.  This includes stretching and strengthening exercises for the hip muscles, the quadriceps, and the hamstrings.  In addition, balance exercises should be incorporated into a comprehensive conditioning program.  Prior to hitting the green golfers should perform a dynamic warm up that including stretches for the hamstrings and quadriceps.

As with any sports injury, it is important that we do not ignore pains experienced during golfing.  If you have an injury it is important to initially rest the injured joint, apply ice and compression, and monitor your symptoms.  Playing through an injury may lead to further injury.  If the symptoms do not resolve with rest and ice or there is severe pain, deformity, or inability to bear weight you should seek medical attention.

Dr. J. Kristopher Ware is an orthopedic surgeon at the Bone & Joint Institute.

For more tips on how to avoid a golf injury and make sure you have proper body mechanics, visit the Hartford HealthCare Sports Zone at this year’s Travelers Championship between June 20 and 23 and get a free golf swing analysis from one of our certified clinicians. 

 


What's New

Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Fall Classic: Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Pumpkin anyone? It’s fall, which means it’s pumpkin season. Pumpkin is certainly an appropriate choice in a healthy diet. Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, potassium, fiber and antioxidants like beta-carotene. One cup cooked is only 49 calories, with 12 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and no fat....


Heart & Vascular Institute Has a New Home in the East

Because of the continued expansion of services, the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute has officially moved its Norwich office, formerly located on 164 Otrobando Ave., to a newly renovated 7,000-square-foot space at 111 Salem Turnpike in Norwich (the former Ames plaza).  The new center offers comprehensive and convenient outpatient...

EEE

Second EEE Death in State History As More Towns Report Infected Mosquitoes

The first human case of Eastern equine encephalitis of the season, only the second reported in Connecticut history, has produced a chorus of caution from public health officials, medical professions and local communities. The message: Protect yourself from mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, and limit outdoor activity in the twilight...

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention: When People Offering Help Actually Need It

Two recent high-profile suicide deaths of men who worked with those at-risk for suicide highlights the increased suicide rate for those who provide services and care. The importance or raising awareness in September, National Suicide Prevention Month, is highlighted by the deaths of Gregory Eells, the executive director of counseling...


How to Prevent a Suicide? Ask the ‘Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge’

As a California Highway Patrol Officer, Sgt. Kevin Briggs worked on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, often with suicidal people, but his own struggles with depression made his presentation Sept. 13 even more impactful at the seventh annual World Suicide Prevention Conference at Heublein Hall at Hartford Hospital....

A panel discussion at the World Suicide Prevention Day

Panel: Suicide Prevention Starts with Empathy, Building Connections

As part of the seventh Annual World Suicide Prevention Day Conference Sept. 13, Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network hosted a panel presentation about the role of healthcare providers in suicide prevention. The panel included Behavioral Health Network Physician-in-Chief John Santopietro; Sgt. Kevin Briggs, a retired California Highway Patrol officer and national speaker;...