Its Golf season again….tips to prevent injury on the course
It’s that season again, spring is around the corner, and those golf clubs in the garage are calling for you to take them out. One of the most common things that physiotherapists treat are injuries related to golf. Shoulders, backs, wrists and elbows are areas that are prone to injury with this sport. These can turn into nagging injuries that start early in the season and can end up shortening your golf season. Want to be prepared this year? Read on for great tips on how to prevent injury and have a great golfing summer.
- STRENGTHEN YOUR FOREARMS
Golfer’s elbow or tendinitis of the inner aspect of the elbow is a common injury. One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to strengthen the forearm muscles and slow the swing so that there will be less shock in the arm when hitting the ball. Following are some great exercises to strengthen your forearms.
Tennis ball squeeze
Squeezing a tennis ball strengthens both the extensor and flexor muscles of the forearm as well as grip strength. Try 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Hold a light weight in your hand, palm facing up. Curl up your wrist, lifting the weight towards your forearm. Lower slowly. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions with one arm and then repeat with the other arm. Now hold the weight with your palm facing down and curl weight up. Repeat with opposite arm.
Flexibility is the key to any sport, especially golf. Not only does it enhance your performance and make for a better game, it helps to prevent injury. Try the following stretches pre-season as well as before each game.
Slowly perform clockwise and counter clockwise neck rolls
Hold a golf club in front of you with a hand at each end of the club. Raise it over your head and hold for 30 seconds. Then hold it the same way behind your back and lift up to stretch the shoulders and hold.
Trunk side bends
Put your hands on your hips and slowly bend down to each side. Hold for 30 seconds.
Place a golf club across your shoulders and hold on to each end of the club. Slowly rotate from the waist and hold in each direction for 30 seconds.
- STRENGTHEN YOUR ROTATOR CUFF
Shoulder injuries can be common as well with golf, usually due to the repetitive swinging nature of the game. To avoid injury the muscles of the shoulder need to be balanced and strong. There are a multitude of muscles around the shoulder and chest that need to work in harmony to avoid injury such as tendonitis. Having a pre-season assessment to determine which particular muscles you may need to strengthen is a great idea.
- CONTROL YOUR CORE
Having strong low abdominal and back muscles are very important in golf to prevent low back strain as well as to have a solid base for the rest of your body to generate the force needed for the swing. Try tightening your kegel muscles while tucking in your belly button during your swing. This will protect your low back from strain that can easily be incurred from the rotational forces created by the golf swing.
- TAKE A LESSON
Poor golfing mechanics can lead to injury. Since flexing, extending, or twisting excessively or improperly increases your chance of injury, you should have your swing analyzed by a golf instructor to ensure proper technique.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT CLUBS
In any sport, it is always important that the equipment is the right fit for you. In golf, injuries can be caused with improper club size, length and grips. Checking with a golf professional to see if your clubs are the best for you, may be worthwhile if you find that you are experiencing pain in your wrist, hands or elbow. Some things to try may be selecting larger and softer grips, and ensuring you have a neutral grip on the club. Ease excessive vibration with graphite shafts and make sure that the length of the club is appropriate for your size.
- WARM UP
Performance and injury prevention is always enhanced with a good warm-up. This should ideally take about 10 minutes and should include a brisk walk to warm your body and muscles. Follow this with some stretching of your neck, shoulders, back and arms. Then start gently swinging a golf club to a half of a swing and work up to a full swing after a few minutes. Perform this swing warm-up slowly, paying particular attention to your body mechanics.
- CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL
Consulting a professional, such as a physiotherapist pre-season is ideally the best way to avoid injury during the season. These therapists will perform an assessment to determine if there are any existing weaknesses, alignment faults or flexibility issues that can be addressed to prevent injury.