According to Jeff Sords, PT, DPT of Cleveland Clinic, those who’ve spent the winter months physically dormant could be setting themselves up for a golf injury come spring.
“Golf is a high-velocity, rotational sport, and all of that quick movement over stable legs can lead to a lot of torque in the spine and the trunk,” he said. “If you’re not in good condition – if you don’t have good core strength or proper flexibility – over time, you’re going to set yourself up for poor biomechanics which usually leads to injury and then pain.”
Sords said back pain is the most common golf-related injury because of the asymmetrical nature of the sport.
“Swinging in one direction sets golfers up for muscle imbalances, which can cause an alignment issue in their hips and pelvis,” he said. “Golfing can actually change your leg length, because your leg bones are connected to your hip and pelvic bones. Many times a golfer’s back pain isn’t so much from the spine, but rather from the pelvis.”
Sords said in addition to back pain, other common golfing injuries include knee, shoulder and elbow pain. The type and severity of the injury depends on the person’s swing, their body type and their physical condition.
He said most injuries are the result of poor swing mechanics, which are caused by abnormal body mechanics.
Sords said the best way to prevent most seasonal golfing injuries is to stay in optimal physical condition year-round with a healthy diet and a regular exercise program.
Once golfers get back into their season, he said it’s best to take breaks and not play every day, as off days give the body a chance to rest and repair. Sords recommends using the off days to add in a little cross-training with activities such as swimming or using an elliptical. When the body does the same thing over and over again it may cause a repetitive type injury.
Believe it or not, fixing a swing is just as important to a golfer’s health as it is their score card.
When a golfer’s alignment is off from too much repetitive motion, Sords said it sets the body up for muscle restrictiveness in some areas and laxity in others, which causes mechanical failure in the body.
“If you’re able to correct the pelvic alignment and level things out, and then work on a good core-strengthening program and leg-strengthening program, it generally tends to help reduce the incidences of back pain,” he said.
For those who experience pain after a round of golf, Sords said the best thing to do is to apply ice to the affected area for 10-15 minutes and continue to ice every couple of hours. If pain does not subside after two to three days, it’s best to contact a physician or a physical therapist for further evaluation. Never continue to play through pain because it can cause further injury.