Golf is the fifth largest participant sport in England, according to England Golf’s biannual club membership report, last published in 2018. The report stated that more than two million people are playing golf at least twice a month. The average number of members per golf club has risen to 484 compared to 460 in 2016.
Although golf has none of the high impact stresses of sports like rugby or football, nevertheless many of the moves associated with it can cause injuries, particularly to your upper body – shoulders, arms, wrists and back.
Our Common Golf Injuries blog explains some of the most frequent golf-associated problems that we see here in the clinic.
- Golfer’s elbow: tendinopathy or microtearing of the tendons, affecting the inside of the elbow.
- Tennis elbow: similar to golfer’s elbow but affecting the inner tendons.
- Rotator cuff injury: tearing or microtearing of the muscles and tendons that stabilise the shoulder joint.
Such injuries can be painful and debilitating and may keep you away from the course for weeks or even months.
Tips for preventing common golf injuries
Whether you play regularly or only visit the golf course occasionally, it’s worth being aware that the majority of golfing injuries are caused by poor technique or overuse. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
(1) Get proper coaching – if you’re new to the game this can help prevent you from developing bad habits or if you’re a seasoned golfer it may identify poor technique that is putting you at increased risk of injury.
A golf swing uses the whole body and uses the same muscles, joints and tendons again and again. It places these joints and soft tissues under significant stress so it’s important to ensure you are doing it right and to adjust your swing if you’re not.
You might need to look at your posture to ensure that most of the movement comes from your hips and you’re not hunching over the ball. If you are too reliant on your wrists to hit the ball, or if your swing is too fast or hard you are more likely to develop conditions like golfer’s elbow.
(2) Don’t push yourself too hard – as with any sport you need to build up gradually. Pushing yourself to do too much too quickly places your body under tremendous strain and is a common cause of injuries. Instead, make sure you always warm up properly before a game and work up to the desired level of play slowly and steadily.
(3) Do regular strength training exercises – a programme of exercises recommended by a coach or physiotherapist can help to build muscle strength and flexibility. This will have the dual benefit of improving your golf swing and cutting the likelihood of injury.
(4) Be aware of how you carry your clubs – most players are so focused on their game they don’t always think about how they are lifting or carrying their clubs. You can injure your back or shoulders carrying heavy clubs or lifting them out of your car incorrectly. Remember to use proper lifting technique, with your back straight and your legs used to take the weight.
Diagnosing Golf Injuries
If you injure yourself on the golf course and the pain persists beyond a couple of days it’s important to seek a proper diagnosis. Once you know what is causing the problem, a specialist can recommend a treatment programme to get you playing again as quickly as possible. Continuing to play with an injury may hinder your game and carries a risk of more serious injury further down the line.
If you have a shoulder, upper arm or elbow injury it is important to receive specialist advice so you can understand the options available to you and make a decision based on a full understanding of the risks and benefits. Contact Thames Shoulder and Elbow to talk through the options for your particular injury.