Now that the long rough winter is fast becoming a memory, we are turning our attention to the onset of the golf season. Golf is one of the most social and enjoyable pastimes among millions of people worldwide. It is estimated that there are more than 32,000 golf courses in the world, and we definitely have our fair share around Burlington, providing a mental challenge with a healthy walk that is good for your heart in a pleasant surroundings. Playing golf is a great way to keep in touch with friends and provides an opportunity to make new acquaintances.
If you walk an average golf course playing 18 holes, you will be getting five to seven kilometres of exercise. If you’re one of those folks who pull or carry your clubs, you get an optimal amount of endurance exercise plus burn additional calories to keep you lean and fit. Playing golf is a beneficial way of reducing stress due to its physical activity and relaxation walking in a natural environment. With so many physical, mental and emotional benefits going for people who play golf, what could possibly be the downside to this pleasurable activity? Injuries!
Mechanics & Overuse:
Although golf is not a contact sport, many golf-related injuries are a result of poor mechanics or overuse. This is particularly true of golfers who are new to the game or play on an occasional basis. Golf can put significant demands on your body as a whole, which can easily lead to injuries. One study showed that 60 percent of golf professionals and 40 percent of amateur golfers suffer either a traumatic or overuse injury while playing golf. The study concluded by stating that of all of the reported injuries that occur in golf, 80 percent are due to overuse.
There are a few unusual injuries associated with golfing, such as out of control back swings hitting golfing partners or a club thrown in anger, injuring someone in close proximity. Although these types of injuries are out of the norm, low back pain is the most common injury by far. The second most complained type of injury occurs to the upper extremities, such as the wrist, elbow or shoulder. Both professionals and amateurs report a relatively high rate of shoulder injuries.
According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine AOSSM
Low back problems can result because of the strong rotation and extension motion that the golfer experiences when swinging. Additionally, constant bending over can increase the stress and strain on the muscles of the lower back causing pain. Increasing the range of motion and extension of the lumbar spine may help to reduce the incidence of low pack back pain. Using longer clubs can help to relieve strain by keeping your body in a more upright position. Also, golfers who carry their own bags have a significantly higher incidence of low back pain in comparison to those who use some other means, such as a carrying cart.
Elbow injuries are also common among golfers, such as the medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). Both are prevalent among golfers and thought to occur due to poor swing mechanics of the golfer. Unfortunately, both of these elbow conditions increase with age and the frequency of playing golf.
Wrist injuries to the lead wrists of golfers are the most commonly injured. This injury occurs due to the overuse of the wrist flexor or extensor tendons and can be very debilitating. These types of wrist injuries are often treated with anti-inflammatory medication, splinting the wrist or steroid injections. At Burlington Sports Therapy, we treat these injuries using a variety of modalities that speed up recovery. These include modalities like interferential current, laser therapy, acupuncture, massage, active release and graston technique. A golfer can learn to alter the swing mechanics and strengthen the hand and forearm through therapy exercise.
The shoulder is another common injury that occurs during golf. Several of the muscles in the shoulder are very active during a swing and susceptible to being injured. These muscles are the sub-scapularis (one of the rotator cuff muscles), pectoralis (“Pecs”) and latissimus (“Lats”) muscles. When an injury occurs, arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis and rotator cuff problems can happen, particularly to the lead arm.
To avoid injury, always warm up carefully before setting out on the golf course. Spend time stretching and hitting a few balls with your short irons. Studies show that golfers who warm up before playing have fewer incidences of injuries while playing than those who start out with the hardest swing of the day off the first tee. Since most injuries occur due to poor mechanics, form and technique, consider taking a few lessons from your local Burlington golf instructor to improve your posture and swing. By taking some sensible precautions ahead of time, you can reduce your risk of injury and continue playing the game that you love.