3 Common Golf Injuries And How To Prevent Them

By Dr. Brandon Siegmund

May 10, 2018

Golf is the name of the game and like any other sport the possibility of injury always looms. It’s usually not a broken bone that people have problems with but sore joints and tendonitis issues are certainly common. Most amateurs will play the game and try to emulate their favorite tour player because it works for that particular player. But does it work for you? Everyone’s body is different from one another and unless you have the same physical traits as the superior tour player then maybe you should stick with your own swing.

Also, most people always want to try new products out on the market whether it be a new club or the next big thing to help reshape the swing and lead to lower scores. The problem lies with compensation of your natural swing. What may seem okay at first might lead to aches and pains over time. This will cause more time away from the golf course to help aid a nagging injury and nothing is more infuriating than not being able to play the sport that you love.

So, let’s look at some of the most common injuries caused by playing golf and how you can prevent from them affecting your game.

Lower Back Strain

The Problem: It has been shown that more than 70% of the injuries that occur in golf are lower back strain. The main cause of the strain is due to poor hip mobility and creating too much torque during the backswing. Overswinging occurs leading to increased shear forces on the joints of the lower back. The tendons and ligaments of the lower back can only withstand so much before strain occurs. Excessive strain over time will start to wear down the discs which act like shock absorbers for the lumbar spine. Eventually bulges and herniations of the discs takes place which is the same thing that happened to Tiger Woods. But none of us are Tiger Woods and the next thing you know golf is a forgotten memory because of lower back pain and eventually disc degeneration.

Solution: STOP OVERDOING IT! The golf swing is meant to be done as a cohesive unit between the pelvis and shoulders. Once the shoulders rotate back and the pelvis stops then the downswing should take place. You should not over rotate the lower trunk past the shoulders to help create more force and try to hit the ball further. Back it down and rotate everything together comfortably. Always consult your chiropractor for routine adjustments to help keep the hips and lumbar spine mobile to reduce the risk of this common golf injury.

Rotator Cuff or Labral Tear of the Shoulder

The Problem: When there is increased tightness of the shoulders prior to impact this can always lead to injury. Most people who play golf usually sit at a computer for more than 40 hours a week. Then you add the time he or she spends on the phone with their arms out in front of them. When you combine this with having kids at home and you are constantly lifting them up or picking up after them then it is a recipe for disaster. The rotator cuff muscles that help to stabilize the shoulder joints are necessary in the golf swing and if they are constantly tight then they will weaken over time. The golf swing is very violent and when performed over and over again it can lead to a tear of one of the rotator cuff muscles. Some golfers will compensate for a rotator cuff problem by keeping his or her shoulders tighter to the body on the backswing. This can eventually lead to a tear of the posterior labrum around the shoulder joint.

Solution: Trying to swing with restrictions in the upper back and shoulder areas is tough. First, you should seek out the advice of a chiropractor to effectively diagnose and treat the areas around the spine and shoulder blades. Second, perform an exercise routine to do daily to help with rounded shoulder posture and strengthening of the upper back muscles as well as stretching the pectoralis (chest muscles). Both of these areas are notorious for causing future shoulder injuries. Lastly, you should swing less and turn more. This means that as you develop your lead shoulder turn when the body stops you then so should your arms. Otherwise you will overswing and possibly get hurt out on the course.

Meniscus Tear or Knee Strain

The Problem: One of the common things that golfers try to do now is keep the lead knee stable at address and through impact. This is something that only those at the professional level can actually do. A person would need excessive hip and ankle mobility in order to perform this movement. While most of us cannot do this we will start to bend and rotate the lead knee inward during the backswing and push the hip forward during the follow through. By making this motion there is a lot of shearing force placed on the meniscus of the knee and over time will lead to degeneration and eventually arthritis. Good luck playing golf on a bad knee because you will be more than likely be in need of a knee replacement down the line if the problem is not fixed.

Solution: In order for the swing to be effective in reducing knee strain, the lead knee must stay in front of the lead hip early in the downswing. When the hips start to slide towards the target then knee problems occur. The lead leg should be completely straight or leaning away from the target when the club starts to come towards the wall. In order to alleviate knee problems slightly turn the left foot out towards the target. This will cause less of a sway during the backswing so that the lead leg can be more stable with the hip turn. Also, practicing hip and ankle mobility stretches daily will help to decrease pressure in and around the knee. The more mobile the hip and ankles then the more stable the knees will feel during the golf swing.

Dr. Brandon Siegmund

About the author

Dr. Brandon Siegmund was born and raised outside of Fort Worth. After he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, Dr. Siegmund performed clinical research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Click Here To Read Full Bio

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