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.
Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day
ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.
My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.
Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:
By BRADY COFFIN
My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.
My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.
I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.
At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.
He loves working at Golf Channel.
“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.
(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)
Not the 'prettiest' 65, but Duval, Furyk will take it
AVONDALE, La. – Wearing a polo instead of a dress shirt, working with a caddie and not a producer, David Duval exited the scoring tent, walked toward the group of reporters waiting for him after their 65 and grumbled to teammate Jim Furyk, “The damn media.”
Duval was joking – we think – since he now is one of us on the dark side, a successful and respected TV analyst, after an injury-shortened career in which he battled Tiger Woods, rose to world No. 1, won a major and then experienced such a miserable slump that it drove him into an entirely new line of work.
Now 46, Duval doesn’t play much anymore, only 11 events in the past four years. His last made cut was in July 2015. Earlier this year, he teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but only because he and his wife, Susie, enjoy the vibe there. Competitively, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. He had moved back to Colorado, worked two out of the three weeks, and then couldn’t practice the other week because the weather didn’t cooperate. Not surprisingly, he shot three consecutive rounds of 76 or worse.
And that could have been the extent of his season (save for his annual appearance at The Open), but he was drawn to the idea of the team format at the Zurich, to the idea of playing with Jim Furyk, with whom he’s been friends for the past 32 years, dating to their days in junior golf. So Duval reached out, asking the U.S. Ryder Cup captain if he wanted to team up, for old times’ sake.
“This was about being with a friend, reuniting, having our wives together for a few days,” said Duval, who estimated that he’s played more than 100 practice rounds with Furyk over the years. “Expectation-wise, I don’t know what they are for me. I don’t get to participate out here and compete.”
But Duval took this start seriously. He almost never travels with his clubs, but he brought them to the Masters, working with his old coach, Puggy Blackmon, between TV appearances and bouncing between Augusta Country Club and Augusta University’s practice facility.
Without any on-camera work since then, he’s spent the past two weeks grinding, even bringing Blackmon to New Orleans for a range session, just like most of the other pros in the field.
“It’s like a normal preparation,” he said. “Maybe not as much as it would be for a typical player, but a lot more than I’ve been able to do in the past.”
Duval has no intentions of diving back into competitive golf full-time, but working as an analyst has given him a new perspective on the game he loves.
“When you don’t play a lot and you don’t have that opportunity, you feel like you have to play perfectly,” he said. “Being on the other side of the desk, you see how many crappy golf shots really, truly get hit, and it’s like, look, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to hit more good ones than bad ones and go from there.”
That also sums up his and Furyk’s opening round here at the Zurich.
Furyk joked before the event that they’re the rustiest team in the field, but playing best ball, they remained steady in a driving rainstorm, then ran off seven birdies to shoot 65 and sit in the top 10 when they finished their round.
“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest,” Duval said, “but it was solid. It wasn’t like we had 36 looks at birdie.”
“We ham-and-egged it really good today,” Furyk added. “We got pretty much one of the best scores we could have out of the round.”
The second round could be a different story, of course, with alternate shot. It’s a more nerve-wracking format – especially for two aging warriors without many competitive reps this year – and they figure to find some unusual parts of TPC Louisiana.
But that’s a worry for Friday, because Duval was in the mood to savor his four birdies, his team score of 65 and his ideal start to a work week with his longtime friend.
“I think it was good,” he said, breaking into a wry smile, “especially for me.”
Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle
AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.
Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.
Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.
“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”
Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.
Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”
Woods commits to Wells Fargo and The Players
Tiger Woods will tee it up each of the next two weeks, having officially committed to both the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.
Woods' commitment to next week's event in Charlotte was confirmed by multiple Golf Channel sources and first reported during Thursday's "Golf Central."
The 42-year-old later took to Twitter to formally announce that he is ready for another back-to-back stretch:
Woods has not played since a T-32 finish earlier this month at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.
Woods' return to The Players will mark his first trip to TPC Sawgrass since 2015. He won on the Stadium Course in both 2001 and 2013. This will be Woods' second back-to-back of the season, having missed the cut at the Genesis Open before finishing 12th the following week at the Honda Classic.
After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.