When we grab our prized clubs and head out to the course for a lovely round of golf, our minds are busy visualizing those perfect, straight drives and nice putts for birdie. For many of us, these are mere hopes and usually far from what happens, but we still love to play. It never crosses our minds that golf is a more dangerous sport than rugby.
Well, it is the truth—golf causes lots of injuries. Many golfers are familiar with Tiger Woods’ story for example, a professional with multiple, career-disrupting back surgeries. Back pain is very common from golf, but there are other areas on the body susceptible to injury, too.
Know the common injuries associated with playing golf so you prevent them or seek treatment.
What Are Common Injuries From Playing Golf?
The most common injuries from playing golf are those of the back. According to a study, lower back pain from golf accounts for up to 54% of all documented ailments from the sport. These include herniated disks and joint syndromes.
Pain and discomfort of the back may be most common to golf, but there are a handful of other injuries caused by the game including knee injuries, golfer’s elbow, hip joint dysfunctions, and shoulder issues.
What Kinds of Back Injuries Does Golf Cause?
Golf is notorious at causing back problems because of the excessive pressure the golf swing puts on the spinal system and back muscles. Three main back issues caused by golf are facet joint syndrome, herniated disks, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Facet Joint Syndrome
Facet joints are located between two vertebrae and allow for the spine to move properly. If these joints are healthy, then the cartilage around them slides smoothly against each other. Damage to this joint area results in pain between the two vertebrae. Often, the cause of this syndrome is repetitive movement from the golf swing that has resulted in micro-traumas. Symptoms include range of motion restrictions and muscle pain or numbness.
This condition refers to a problem with the rubbery disc between the spinal bones. It can be a form of degeneration that comes with age and be exacerbated by the stress from a golf swing. Not all herniated disks need treatment, but if you are experiencing pain, numbness, weakness, or burning sensations that extend to the legs or neck, then seek treatment.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
The sacroiliac joint offers stability to the hips and back through the golf swing. Symptoms of the (SI Joint) pain include:
- Pain in lower back
- Pain in buttocks, hips, and pelvis
- Sharp pains radiating down the legs
- Burning sensation in the pelvis
For temporary treatment of back pain, rest, heat application, and over-the-counter pain reliever are effective for many. Seek medical attention if back pain persists over weeks to months. Consult with a physical therapist to increase flexibility and learn how to modify movements to avoid flaring up symptoms.
What is Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, and it is a condition that causes pain where the tendons of the forearm muscles meet the inside bone of the elbow. Overuse of the wrist in a golf swing can lead to this pain. Symptoms of golfer’s elbow are:
- Pain and tenderness of the inner elbow side
- Elbow stiffness
- Hand and wrist weakness
- Numbness and tingling that radiates to fingers
Consult your doctor if the (RICE) method and pain relievers aren’t enough to relieve your pain.
What Knee Injuries Happen From Golf?
The golf swing places a great amount of torque on the knee structure, a force of up to 4.5 times the golfer’s body weight is exerted on the forward knee. Because of this, golf can cause injuries such as meniscus and ligament tears, tendonitis, and increasing onset of osteoarthritis.
Knee injuries can resolve with adequate rest and stretching. Knee braces are also an option for temporary pain relief. But if pain and inflammation does not subside, it is best to consult your doctor.
How Can Golf Hurt The Shoulder?
Because of the shoulder rotation in a golf swing, a large amount of stress affects the shoulder’s surrounding muscles and connective tissues. Common shoulder injuries from golf are rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, and frozen shoulder—pain causing stiffness in the shoulder joint.
At home stretching, medication, and physical therapy are typical treatments for shoulder injuries. You may need to speak with a specialist if these treatments don’t resolve symptoms.
Preventing Golf Injuries
It is best practice to warm up the entire body before playing golf and other activities. Do jumping jacks or a brisk walk for ten minutes, followed by adequate stretching of the main muscle groups. Here are some other tips to maintain a healthy back and joints when playing golf.
- Use proper swing mechanics
- Strengthen core muscles
- Follow a regular exercise routine
- Always use good footwear and equipment
- Use a ball retriever
Kintsugi Physical Therapy and Wellness Will Get You Back On The Course
Here at Kintsugi Physical Therapy and Wellness, we provide a holistic approach to transform your health and wellness. If you are suffering from a golf injury, we are ready to provide you the treatment necessary to recover and get you back out there hitting beautiful drives and sinking putts.
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