What kind of injuries do you get playing golf?
Golf is a sport not just a gentle stroll. It is a high-velocity rotational sport, so injuries are extremely common. It is estimated by TPI that 20% of Pro Golfers play injured, and 50% of golfers develop chronic problems. At MLH Physio we have expert golf knowledge and vast experience in treating golf injuries, but what are the common injuries we see and what causes them? Hopefully this will give you a little insight to what we see in clinic every day.
What are the Most Common Golf Injuries?
· Lower back injuries
· Shoulder injuries
· Wrist injuries
· Hip problems
· Elbow injuries
What are the common mechanisms of Golf Injuries?
The most common cause of injury in Pro’s is overuse, whereas in Amateurs it is poor swing mechanics. We will discuss specifics around each injury but here are some general causes:
· Poor body mechanics
· Poor swing mechanics/technique
· Overuse – excessive practice
· Poor conditioning and fitness levels
· Improper club fitting
Lower back injuries:
The underlying pathology in back injuries can present as a minor ache or stiffness, to severe pain and even leg pain. Some golfers’ pathology may not actually be caused by golf, but it can stop them playing the game they love. The most common cause of lower back pain in golfers is ‘S’ posture, seen with an excessively arched back shown on the image below.
Other swing characteristics like reverse spine angle and early extension tend to put increased load through the spine and facet joints, which can also lead to injury or pain.
If a golfer has particular physical limitations, like reduced lead hip internal rotation, this can also force them to put undue strain on the lower back during their golf swing.
Golfers can develop issues with both shoulders depending on their swing and body mechanics. A steep swing plane or heavy contacts, resulting in sudden deceleration, can cause rotator cuff injuries or impingement symptoms. Sometimes lessons with a PGA Professional can change these swing faults and help alleviate those symptoms.
Physical limitations in the thoracic spine rotation or shoulder joint external rotation can put excessive forces on the shoulder complex and lead to injury.
Sprains, strains and tendonitis around the wrist are extremely common in golfers. At some point most golfers will have some wrist pain due to a sudden heavy impact, like hitting a tree root, or when spending hours practicing at the range, they may develop an over-use injury.
As shown above, poor swing mechanics forces golfers to place excessive stress on the wrist, which can also lead to hand injuries.
Some hip mechanics can predispose golfers to issues, like FAI (Femeroacetabular Impingement) or Retro/anteversion. Usually these underlying pathologies will force the golfer to make certain compensations in their swing. In the example shown below, limited lead hip internal rotation may force the player to ‘slide’ their body toward the target.
The most common issues at the elbow are golfer’s and tennis elbow, surprisingly both common in golf. Again, this usually occurs as a result of too much practice and poor swing mechanics, where the golfer manipulates the club too much with the hands.
So, what should you do?
If you have a new injury, sometimes the body will heal itself. However if your injury isn’t improving after 1-2 weeks then we would recommend seeing a Chartered Physiotherapist. If you are a golfer, we are experts in common golf injuries, so can help you to relive the symptoms then advise you on how to get back onto the course pain-free.
Prevention is better than cure. At MLH Physio we are able to offer specialist TPI Screening to identify any physical limitations that may lead to injury. We can identify specific areas of tightness or weakness that may put your body under undue stress whilst playing golf and advise you on specific exercises or drills to improve those limitations.