10 common golf injuries
Golf requires a lot of time and effort, not to mention a great deal of skill, mental fortitude and perseverance to excel at it. The explosive nature of the swing can put a tremendous amount of stress on the body, and a majority of professional golfers have experienced some sort of nagging injury at one time or another in their careers. But you don’t have to be a professional to experience some of the most common injuries in golf. Even casual golfers can sustain injuries. Many injuries can be prevented.
Experts in sports medicine note a number of factors that contribute to common golf swing injuries:
• Overuse and over-practice
• Poor swing mechanics
• Not warming up the muscles properly
• Rotational stresses placed on the spine
• Incorrect grip and setup
• Traumatic force to the body resulting from a poorly executed swing
These factors can lead to the most common injuries:
1. Back Pain – An estimated 75 to 85 percent of all Americans will experience some form of back pain during their lifetime, and the numbers may be higher among golfers. The rotational stresses of the swing can place considerable pressure on the spine and muscles. Compound that with the fact that golfers spend four to five hours in a bent-over stance, repeating the same motion hundreds of times, it is no wonder that playing golf can cause minor strains in the back that can easily lead to severe injuries. To keep your back healthy for golf, add exercises that stretch and strengthen your back.
2. Tendinitis in the Elbows – Tendinitis (irritation and inflammation of the tendon tissue) is the most common condition affecting the elbow. It is frequently referred to as “tennis elbow” when there is an injury to the outer tendon, and “golfer’s elbow” when there is an injury to the inner tendon. Interestingly enough, most golfers suffer more from “tennis elbow” than “golfer’s elbow.” The risk of getting tendinitis increases with age, and is higher in people who routinely perform activities that require repetitive movements that increase stress on susceptible tendons, such as hitting golf balls. In addition, these type of injuries can be aggravated by an improper swing motion.
Treatment focuses on resting the injured tendon to allow healing, decreasing inflammation, promoting muscle strength, and improving improper swing mechanics. In most patients, tendinitis readily resolves with treatment.
3. Knee Pain – Knee pain can occur from the strain placed on a weak knee to stabilize the rotation of the hip axis at the beginning of the swing. Extreme force placed on the knee can result in torn ligaments. Arthritis sufferers may experience more knee problems because the degenerative nature of the disease, which results in a gradual wearing away of joint cartilage.
Treatment of knee pain depends entirely on the cause of the problem. So if you are experiencing symptoms, you must see a doctor. Stretching, rest and icing to bring down inflammation can all help alleviate symptoms.
4. Rotator Cuff – Pain may be felt in the shoulder or upper arm at various phases of the golf swing, or following play, often during the night and when extending arms overhead. Injuries to the rotator cuff can be sustained through traumatic force resulting from a poorly executed golf swing, hitting a root or rock, taking a deep divot, and from overuse. Golfers can develop tendinitis, bursitis, and tears in the rotator cuff due to the repetitive motion of the golf swing.
Rotator cuff injuries are usually treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. In some instances, surgical repair becomes necessary. In these cases, modifications to the golf swing, combined with strength conditioning could alleviate symptoms and prevent further injury.
5. Wrist Injuries – The repetitive motions of golf, and the high speed of the typical swing can place wrists at a high risk for injury. Pain and tenderness on the top of the wrist, experienced at the top of the backswing and at impact, are common. The most common golf-related wrist injury is tendinitis, or swelling of the tendons responsible for wrist movement. Many wrist injuries, as well as other golf-related injuries, can be prevented by a pre-season and year-round golf-specific conditioning program.
6. Hand and Finger Injuries – Much as with wrist injuries, the repetitive motions of golf, and the high speed of the typical swing can place the hands and fingers at high risk for injury. Repetitive blunt trauma or single severe trauma to the fingers can lead to numerous conditions such as tendinitis, broken or deformed bones and a condition called hypothenar hammer syndrome, or HHS.
Learning the proper grip, avoiding long periods of ball bashing, and not hitting balls off of artificial mats can prevent all these injuries.
7. Neck Injuries – Neck injuries are common in new golfers who are not used to twisting their bodies so much. After a few hours of swinging the club and hitting balls, the neck muscles may shorten in spasm and freeze the neck into a painful position.
Again, like most injuries, neck injuries can be prevented by first warming up the muscles, taking frequent breaks while playing or practicing, and slowly working up to longer periods of practice and play. The primary goal of an exercise program for your neck is to strengthen and stretch the shoulders and upper back.
8. Foot and Ankle Injuries – Throughout the golf swing, the body acts as a whip; power production starts with the feet pushing against the ground. Each foot moves differently during a golf swing. The back foot must allow for more pronation during the follow- through of the golf swing than the front foot. Injuries can occur when the golfer looses his or her footing or balance during the swing, while performing the swing with the improper swing mechanics, and when hitting a ball off an uneven surface.
Sprains in the ankles, tendinitis in the ankle and foot bones, and inflammation and blisters are common injuries that can be sustained while playing golf. Wearing properly fitted golf shoes and improving swing mechanics are the best ways to prevent foot and ankle injuries.
9. Hip Injuries – The hip joint is usually very mobile and able to withstand large amounts of loading stresses, but is particularly vulnerable to injury during golf, since the swing involves a tremendous amount of pivoting and twisting movements. During the golf swing, the hip is subjected to repeated adduction and flexion/extension forces. This requires a great deal of control throughout the gluteal muscles and the adductor muscle complex. It is these rotational and shear forces that cause injuries such as groin strains and low back injuries.
The hip joint is very similar to the shoulder joint or rotator cuff, so the injuries sustained to the hip are very similar to the tears that occur to the rotator cuff. Again, warming up muscles before play is imperative to preventing injury, as is adding flexibility and strength to the muscles that surround the hip joint and socket. (Jack Nicklaus and Peter Jacobsen had hip replacements.)
10. Sunburn – Skin is the largest organ of the body, and the most vulnerable to damage while playing golf. Repeated exposure to the sun can lead to skin damage and even skin cancer. Since golfers typically spend four to five hours exposed to the sun – often during the hottest part of the day – they are most likely to injure their skin through sunburns.
Prevention is the best defense against the sun. Always apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and reapply often during the round. Wear a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing if you are going to spend long periods of time out in the sun.
Preventing the most common golf injuries can be done by working on improving swing mechanics, participating in golf-specific conditioning programs, buying properly fitted equipment, avoiding long practice sessions, always performing a warm up routine before practice and play, and (golf-specific) stretching frequently.
EDITORS NOTE: Golf Fitness Magazine is the only national consumer publication dedicated to golf-specific fitness, mental focus, and improving ability, performance and health among all golfers. Our priority is to maximize your potential, lower your scores, reduce your risk of injury, and extend your golfing years. Each issue has departments dedicated to men, women, seniors, and juniors along with tips, advice and simple exercise routines from GFM’s team of experts. If you want to improve your golf game, and hit the ball farther, click here for special offers on a subscription so you can have all this and more in-depth advice delivered right to you! Get cutting edge fitness & mental tips sent to your inbox each month with our FREE golf performance eNewsletter, Shape Your Game. To contact our Senior Editor, Publisher or Online Editor with questions or comments, please visit our web site golffitnessmagazine.com for more information.
Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.
Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.
''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''
First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.
''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''
David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.
The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''
The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros
Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.
Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.
I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.
One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.
So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?
You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?
Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?
I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.
This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.
Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:
Once we give 'em a lesson, we are faced with:— Trackman Maestro (@TrackmanMaestro) January 16, 2018
A. Will they do what we asked them to do
B. Can they do what we asked them to do
C. Will they put in the practice time
D. The fact that golf is a hard game
We face multiple barriers as golf instructors.
On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.
The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:
“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”
Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.
Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.
Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.
Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.
After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth.
Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.
Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.
“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”
After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).
Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129.
The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.