As a one-sided sport, golf can lead to over-use injuries and wear and tear from the repetitive nature of the swing – so if you’re hoping to avoid pain or just improve your game, a physical therapist might have the tips you need.

Sarah Emlaw, PT, DPT, OCS, of the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute at Hartford Hospital said there are a few easy ways to make sure you’re on the course all summer long and stay injury-free.

“Injuries are a combination of different factors including overuse, over training, poor nutrition, poor body and swing mechanics and incorrect club fitting,” Emlaw said, noting that it is common for golfers to experience pain in the lower back and elbow.

The cause of this pain stems from the mechanics of the swing, with certain swing characteristics known to be highly correlated to low back pain. The lumbar spine endures not only rotational forces, but also compressive, shearing and lateral bending forces with each swing.

Golfer’s elbow is another overuse injury, caused by too much stress on your muscles, joints or other tissues without allowing them time to recover.

“It is important to find the cause of the pain and not just treat the source of pain, that way the pain doesn’t keep coming back,” Emlaw said.

Hartford HealthCare’s Rehabilitation Network has physical therapists trained to work with golfers. They can perform movement screenings to identify musculoskeletal impairments that may be contributing to the patient’s back pain.

For an in-depth analysis, golfers can visit the Bone & Joint Institute for a three-dimensional biomechanical evaluation of their swing. The golfer will receive a comprehensive report of findings and recommendations to address any impairments.

“We are trying to identify and tackle the reasons why someone is moving the way that they are, which is usually what’s causing additional stress,” Emlaw said. “We can pull in different resources and refer you to a golf pro, nutritionist or sports psychologist. There are a lot of opportunities for a collaborative program for golfers.”