Remedies for those pre-season ailments

By Golf Fitness MagazineSeptember 21, 2009, 11:52 pm

By this time of the year, most golfers are starting to hit the course again especially those that are not fortunate enough to live in a climate that allows year round golf. Hopefully you took time in the off-season to work on strengthening your body as well as your mind. As you eagerly hit the course, beware of some of these golf related injuries that could sneak up on you, again this spring. Below are common golf-related injuries and pre-season remedies to ensure that you are ready to play all season.

Man swinging club with injury points1. The Low Back

Most of us experience low back pain at one time or another. In fact, up to 80% of golfers report golf-related back pain at some point in their career. The normal stresses of everyday life place a tremendous amount of strain on our low backs, and lead to a variety of problems, most commonly degenerative disc and joint disease. Couple this with the added stresses of a golf swing, and you are looking at some serious down time to rehabilitate a low back injury. To avoid this or to speed up healing of a previous injury, you should focus on two main areas. First, it is important to ensure that the joints in your low back and surrounding areas are moving smoothly against each other. This prevents undue stress from accumulating on any one area, which makes that area more susceptible to injuries such as herniated discs and arthritis. Second, it is extremely important, especially in golf, that low back muscles are strong and flexible. Strong muscles in this area help distribute the forces placed on the low back during the very strenuous golf swing. Exercises for the lower abdominal muscles and for overall balance are especially important for stabilizing the low back and providing support.

2. Golfer’s Elbow 

Golfer’s elbow is often an “overuse injury,” and is an inflammation of the tendons where they attach on the inside of the elbow. It is often caused by an improper grip, faulty swing mechanics, arm weakness, poor warm-up or cool-down, or any combination of these. The shoulder and poor posture or neck problems must also be considered as potential contributors to elbow pain. There are many steps you can take to treat elbow pain, especially in the off-season. Most important is rest. Second, ice and anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil or Motrin are beneficial. (Please consult your physician before taking any medication.) Massage to that area is also helpful. A physician may offer you a cortisone injection or other medications, while a therapist can prescribe specific exercises and look for other contributing factors. The most important step is to change the stressor on the elbow that originally caused the pain. Working with a physical therapist and/or swing coach in the off-season will help ensure a solid swing that does not increase stress on the elbow.

3. Foot Pain

Golfers many times suffer from foot pain. Most commonly the foot may hurt at the bottom of the heel, along the arch, or at the big-toe joint. This is often caused by foot arch position (a flat arch, or a pronated foot) and improper footwear. Our body relies on our feet to provide a stable base during the very dynamic golf swing. Therefore, it is important to have strong and pain-free lower legs, ankles and feet. The most important treatment during the off-season and extending into the warmer months is to focus on calf stretching, and to invest in good footwear with proper arch support. There are many specialty golf shoe and sneaker stores than can fit you with over-the-counter arch support for your sneakers and golf shoes if needed. In some cases, custom orthotics from your healthcare professional may be required to provide optimal foot positioning. Orthotics can potentially help the foot and ankle, but also decrease strain on the knees, hips and back. Additionally, icing the sole of the foot by rolling your foot on a frozen water bottle can decrease any inflammation that may have built up and contributing to foot pain. If these treatment options still leave you with foot pain, consult your physician and physical therapist who can take a more in-depth look at the mechanics of your lower leg, and the stress placed on your feet during your golf swing.

4. Knee Pain

There are various causes of knee problems related to golf. Most commonly, golfers suffer from arthritis at the knee. The knee can also have injuries that involve the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments that support the joint. Many of these problems are related to the amount of rotation required during the backswing and follow-through. Tight muscles in the hips and low back may contribute to increased stress at the knee. It is also important to make sure that the three main muscles surrounding the knee joint are strong. These three muscles are the quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles. By ensuring that the main muscles are strong, and the hips and back are flexible, the knee joint is allowed maximal protection against injury. Your physical therapist or personal trainer can help you with flexibility and strengthening exercises to target these areas to decrease stress on your knees. Many patients often ask me about knee bracing after a knee injury. My advice is usually that knee braces are good to provide temporary support after a mild injury, but should not be worn long-term. Any brace that is worn long-term may cause our body to rely on that extra support, and can actually weaken or suppress our own structural support system. Consult your physician and physical therapist for advice on bracing and specific exercises after a knee injury.

5. Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is a complicated joint that allows us much freedom of movement. Because of the large amount of motion available at the shoulder joint, it is very susceptible to injury. Most commonly is tendonitis and bursitis at the shoulder, both inflammatory conditions that are worsened with repeated motions. Besides the usual treatment of rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication, the shoulder is a joint that responds remarkably well to simple strengthening exercises. It is important to strengthen the rotator cuff (a group of small muscles that surround and support the shoulder joint) and the muscles around the shoulder blade. This is especially important for golfers, who tend to overuse the shoulders to make up for lack of flexibility in the spine. Your swing coach may ask you to slow down or shorten your back swing if you have shoulder pain, as this places increased stress on the shoulder.

As with all injuries, whether they are recent or chronic, the important thing to remember is that you do not have to continue to play through pain. The off-season is the perfect opportunity to take some time to dedicate to healing your body. This includes a certain amount of rest followed by flexibility, strengthening and stabilization exercises. There is no short cut to working through injuries. Any time spent in the off-season will surely be repaid many-fold in the upcoming golf season. Take the time now to dedicate to your body and your swing. Your golf game will thank you for it.


Erin Booker, MPT, MTC, CSCS, is a GFM Advisory Team Member.For further information on Erin, log onto


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 for more information.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

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. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

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.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

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Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

“I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

“I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

“This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.