Preventing Golf Injuries
Now that the weather is finally beginning to warm up, many of us will be looking to resume our outdoor activities. For many of us that means returning to the golf course. To an outsider, golf may appear to be a low-level physical activity without much risk for injury, but a 2015 study found that there were 131,000 emergency room visits for golf related injuries. Many of these injuries were either the result of poor swing mechanics or overuse. The following steps can help to reduce your risk of injury while on the golf course:
- Warm up. Before you practice your swing or play a round of golf, warm up for at least 10 minutes with a brisk walk or a set of jumping jacks. Stretch your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine and legs. Swing your golf club a few times, gradually increasing your range of motion. One study found that those individuals who warmed up prior to golfing had half the risk of injury as those who did not warm up.
- Use proper posture. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and rotated slightly outward, and with your knees slightly bent. Hold your spine relatively straight; your trunk should be tilted forward, but most of that movement should come from your hips. Avoid hunching over the ball, which may contribute to neck and back strain.
- Strengthen your muscles. Golf is a repetitive sport and your muscles need to be able to withstand these forces over the course of a round. Emphasizing lower weight, higher rep strengthening exercises at the gym can help to increase both your strength and muscular endurance. Begin your routine focusing on the abdominals, glutes and shoulders, as these are the muscles most frequently used in the golf swing.
- Build up your endurance. A typical round of golf can take 4-5 hours. If you begin to fatigue before the end of your round, your swing mechanics may begin to decline which places you at higher risk for injury. Regular aerobic activity (walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming) can help to improve your endurance and reduce the risk of injury.
- Lift and carry clubs carefully. Golfers who carry their own bags have higher rates of shoulder and back injuries than do other golfers. If you jerk heavy clubs out of the trunk of your car, you could injure yourself before you reach the first tee. Use proper lifting technique: Keep your back straight and use the strength of your legs to lift.
- Try to avoid hitting objects other than the ball. Elbow and wrist injuries are often the result of hitting the ground or the rough
- Use good swing mechanics. If you are new to the sport or even if you are an experienced golfer, taking lessons with a professional can help to eliminate any flaws in your swing that could results in excessive force being placed on any one joint.