The 5 Most Common Golf Injuries (and What to Do About Them)

Love golf? Chances are that if you are an avid player, you will suffer from one or more of these common golf injuries at some point. Become aware of the possible problems and either prevent them or get them treated early to make sure you stay on the links.

Back Pain

You’re keen to improve your swing, but hours spent hunched over your club, along with the rotational stresses you put onto your back as you swing, can add up to serious back pain. Lower back pain is the most common, but don’t discount the discomfort of that shooting, stabbing pain between your shoulder blades, either.

To prevent back issues, practice correct form and regularly exercise the muscles of your back (focusing specifically on trapezoid and pectoral muscles). Flexibility exercises such as yoga can also help to prevent back injuries.

To treat back pain once it has begun, choose from the following depending on severity:

  •      Rest
  •      Alternating hot and cold packs
  •      Pain medicine that also reduces inflammation, such as ibuprofen
  •      Deep tissue massage
  •      Visit a chiropractor
  •      Steroid injections
  •      Surgery

Rotator Cuff Injury

Avid golfers can end up messing up their rotator cuffs, which are the four stabilizing muscles located in each of your shoulders. Rotator cuff impingements are when the muscles swell and pinch the space between the arm and shoulder bones. Another type of injury occurs when one of the tendons or muscles tear. Both common types of rotator cuff injuries cause pain and inhibit your game.

To prevent rotator cuff injury, practice correct form as well as engage in regular strength training and stretching the muscles of the shoulders, backs, and abs.

If you have suffered a rotator cuff injury, Heidi Jannenga of WebPT recommends the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Follow up with exercises designed to strengthen shoulder and back muscles.

Tennis Elbow and Golf Elbow

Tendinitis in the elbow is commonly referred to in sports terms. “Tennis elbow” refers to irritation and inflammation of the outer tendon, while “golf elbow” refers to irritation and inflammation of the inner tendon. Strangely, more golfers suffer from tennis elbow than golf elbow, but the result can still be very painful.

To prevent tendinitis of either sort, make sure you are using proper swing techniques when you practice. Tendinitis shows up after overuse of the tendons involved, so be sure to rotate your practice regimen to allow your elbows and arms to get adequate rest.

Treating tendinitis is usually fairly simple, although you might have to grit your teeth and put the clubs away while you allow your body to heal. The goals are to reduce inflammation, gently strengthen the muscles and tendons, and correct your swing technique so you don’t do this to yourself again.

Knee Pain and Damage

As you stabilize the rotation of the hip axis at the beginning of a swing, you can end up putting a lot of stress and strain on a weak knee. Knee injuries vary in type and severity, and it’s no secret that knees suffer more as you age. If you are noticing knee pain during your game, visit your doctor sooner rather than later!

To prevent knee pain, gently stretch your calves, hamstrings, thighs, and core muscles before heading out for a round. Wear quality shoes with good arch support, and use a brace if you feel weakness or twinges.

If you already suffer from knee pain, you’ll need a doctor to diagnose the exact problem and help you decide on a course of treatment. If you ignore knee pain, you can end up doing incredible damage, which has the potential of greatly affecting your ability to play.

Tendinitis in the Wrists

Like the tendons in the elbows, wrist tendons can become overly fatigued and inflamed, which can affect your ability to hold your club correctly (or at all, in serious cases).

To prevent wrist tendinitis, use the off-season to condition and strengthen your wrists and forearms. Dr. Levi Harrison recommends these seven forearm and wrist exercises, which are simple and easy to add to your current exercise regimen.

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