Getting a Grip on Wrist Injuries
Wrist injuries are common among golfers and normally occur at the moment of impact of the club with the ball. Teen golfer Michelle Wie also had a disappointing year on the LPGA Tour because of a similar injury to her right wrist. Wie hit a shot off a cart path during the womens Samsung World Championship in 2006, the injury caused her to withdraw from many tournaments and lead to a disappointing year in 2007.
Because the grip is the bodys sole connection to a golf club, wrist action is a critical part of the swing. The repetitive motions of golf and the high speed of the typical golf swing, however, place wrists at a high risk for injury. To begin with, lets look at symptoms one might experience with an injured wrist.
1. Hot Sensation in the wrist.
2. Swelling in the wrist after playing a round or practice.
3. Wrist feels stiff and normal movements such as opening jars, carrying luggage or shaking hands are painful the day after a round of golf or practice.
4. Finding a small lump on the back on the wrist commonly known as a ganglion.
5. Pressure on the top of the wrist that causes severe pain.
6. Weakness in wrist and hand that increases with time.
7. Severe pain in wrist and hand that leads to use of non-dominate wrist and hand.
8. Increased apprehension and anxiety when using hand on a daily basis. Normal activity such as turning a door handle, picking up a golf bag and teeing up a golf bag cause pain and discomfort.
9. Quitting on golf shots at impact and to make a complete golf swing.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms before, during or after, your golf game, the next step is to get a proper diagnosis from your physician'this area of the body is very complex! An MRI is essential to locate the injury and determine whether it is tendons, bone, ligaments, nerves, joints etc. You must have a physicians diagnosois in order to properly treat your symptoms and to get the proper rehabilitation.
Many golfers that suffer from wrist injuries have experienced a past injury to the wrist or forearm. These golfers are extremely likely to suffer a recurrence of wrist pain. Prolonged wrist injuries that are not treated can lead to more serious permanent damage in the underlying structure of the wrist such as the joint discs or ligaments.
Many of the structures that are damaged in wrist injuries, are not seen with a plain x-ray. That is why diagnosis from a physician and an MRI are so vitally important when it comes to this type of injury.
After you have confirmed your diagnosis, there are several ways in which you and your physical therapist, or physician can work together to rehabilitate your injury.
However, one must note, that many wrist injuries, as well as any other golf-related injuries, can be prevented by a pre-season and year-round, golf-specific conditioning program. The following are some of the ways in which wrist injuries are commonly treated after proper diagnosis has been made:
rest and ice
muscular strengthening, flexibility exercises
a short, practical, pre-game warm-up routine
the adjustment of an individuals golf swing to meet their physical capacities and limitations through properly supervised golf lessons
the correct selection of golf equipment and an awareness of the environmental conditions
on-going physical therapy in which your team of therapists, physicians, your instructor and yourself work together to diagnose, treat, and repair.
So we have evaluated your symptoms, and informed you on some of the less complex treatments that are common for treating wrist injuries, howewever, the question still exists-how did this injury happen? The following is a detailed list of how most golf related wrist injuries occur.
The Risk Factors for Wrist Injury:
1. Poor Neck Posture and Muscle Control
The body as a system is quite versatile in adjusting to adverse situations. Poor posture and lack of muscle control can easily lead to compensations in the golf swing. Instead of using large muscle groups to create power in the swing, someone with poor neck posture and muscle control may compensate by flicking the wrists and trying to help the ball up in the air putting strain on the smaller muscles in the hands and wrists.
2. Prolonged Sitting then Excessive Practice Ball Bashing
Prolonged periods of inactivity followed by excessive periods of physical activity like ball striking are a prescription for injury. Warming up and cooling down and consistent moderate activity are extremely important in reducing the risk of muscle and joint injuries especially in the smaller muscles of the wrists.
3. Overuse of Small Muscle Groups
This causes fatigue. As with poor neck posture and weak muscle control, if you have weak shoulders you tend to use other muscles to compensate for the lack of strength and control. If the body cannot stabilize during a swing, other parts of the body like the wrists will be overused and injured.
4. Over-Cocking of the Wrists
All good players have one position in the golf swing thats similar despite their very different-looking swings. This position is impact. Good players retain their wrist-cock through the hitting area so that their left wrist is bowed and the right wrist is flexed (for right-handed golfers), and both hands are slightly in front of the golf ball at the strike.
High-handicappers tend to do the opposite at impact. Instead of a late hit, they actually execute whats called an early release. They scoop the ball at impact because they lose the lag too early in the downswing.
Instead of having a bowed left wrist and their hands ahead of the ball at impact, they have a collapsed left wrist and their hands are behind the ball. As such, they put a tremendous amount of pressure on the muscles and tendons on the wrists that could lead to injury.
A player may damage their left wrist in attempt to overdo the bowed left wrist at impact. Learning correct mechanics will help prevent injuries.
5. Poor Swing Technique
A steep angle of attack on the ball at impact causes the leading wrist to dorsiflex or extend. As this happens, the elbows flexor muscles are stretched excessively. If the golfer hits the ground first (a fat shot), at the moment of impact, the trauma may damage the tendons and muscles.
Many high-handicappers decelerate at the moment of impact to help the ball up in the air. This maneuver puts a tremendous amount of strain on tendons. The result is the lead arm looking like a chicken wing and a weak golf shot.
6. Excessive Ball Bashing Resulting in Poor Technique and Wrist Fatigue, Then Eventual Injury of the Wrist Region
Generally, the more often you play, the higher your risk of injury. Golfers who spend more than six hours per week playing golf are at increased risk of overuse injuries. Practice habits contribute significantly. The onset of club championships or a new years resolution to improve your game may increase your predisposition to injury
7. Playing on Poor Quality Driving Range Mats or Heavy Rough Causing Direct Traumatic Trauma
Hitting balls off rubber mats or hard surfaces will increase the likelihood of a wrist injury.
The constant pounding on the wrists combined with poor swing technique can cause strain of the muscles. Improper swing technique dramatically increases the risk of injury. Golfers who swing correctly and smoothly are less likely to hurt themselves.
Hitting out of heavy rough, buried lies or making contact with immovable surfaces (tree roots and rocks) may also lead to injury. Phil Mickelsons wrist injury was caused from hitting a shot out of rough during a practice round for the US Open. As the clubhead approaches impact, the grass wraps around the clubhead and stops the clubhead from sliding through the grass.
If you do not break up your long game, practice, train excessively on unforgiving surfaces, hit out of the rough or buried lies, or make contact with immovable structures (tree roots and rocks), you will decrease your likelihood of wrist pain.
8. Poor Predisposing Power and Functional Grip in the Weak Golfer
The golfer cannot maintain good muscle function in the hand itself even with simple things like lifting bags or opening a jar. What happens at the point of impact determines trajectory, the direction and the distance the ball flies. The interaction between clubface and ball rests largely upon the strength of the wrists. If a golfer has weak grip strength, then they are at greater risk for injury while playing golf.
In conclusion, there are many different strenghthening excercises and stretches that can be done prior to play that can help prevent the golfer from injury. These excercises and stretches can be invaluable when it comes to protecting your wrist and even improving your golf game.
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 GFMs 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.
Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:
The Monday morning headline will be …
REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.
RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.
MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.
JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.
Who or what will be the biggest surprise?
HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.
LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.
BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.
COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.
Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?
HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.
LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.
BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.
COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.
What will be the winning score?
HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.
LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.
BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.
COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.
Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty
Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.
Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.
This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):
While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:
Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.
McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.
Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.
“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”
McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.
“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”
He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.
Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign
A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.
Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.
Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.
And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”