Injury Prevention: Easier Than You Think
Written by Dr Micaiah Meuer
Many golfers use the off-season to address any injuries they throughout the regular season, usually focusing on strength, stability and/or mobility. Fortunately, in Singapore we have the opportunity to play golf year round. In this case, it takes some planning to create a training protocol that drives back overtraining and focuses on injury prevention. Current studies suggest that on average 40 to 60% of golfers sustain a golf-related injury each year. Approximately 25% of these participants are over 65 years old, however, injuries are seen among golfers of all age and gender.
Of these injuries the most common are low back, shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries. Many of these problems can be attributed to poor technique, which often falls into the overuse or repetitive strain categories of diagnosis. Injury prevention is often much easier than one thinks and by implementing a few basic strategies into their current game they can have longer term lasting effects towards health management on the course.
Pillar #1 - Good and Effective Warm-up
Too often this part of the game is neglected and as a result puts the player
at higher risk of injury. The goal of a good warm up is to promote both
physical and psychological readiness, through increased body temperature
from enhanced blood flow, therefore promoting improved muscle and tendon flexibility. A proper warm up can often be the small difference between a good and great round that day. Start with light cardiovascular exercise (jogging or fast pace walking) following by dynamic stretching (meaning you are moving as you stretch) and club warm-up moving from the short game on the green to full swings starting with your short irons (SW-8)
Pillar #2 - Equipment
There are two pieces of equipment, which can drastically affect a player’s
injury rate. The clubs they are playing with most often and the shoes they
are wearing to walk those long distances. With all the new types of clubs
and shoes available make sure both are professionally fitted. Shoe spikes
are also another consideration. Long spikes will create additional friction
and torque between the turf and player. This is not always suitable for players with previous knee or hip injuries due to the additional rotation placed on the joints. These players may want to consider short spikes or no spikes.
Pillar #3 - Strength Training
Although it is true that faster speed will help hit the ball further, injury
prevention requires specific strength training and motor control to help
stabilize the smaller structures/muscles. It is important to not only focus on
the muscles that drive the ball forward during the swing phase of acceleration but also training the many other muscles that help to decelerate the body on the back end. Best way to train these “acceleration and deceleration” muscles is through resistance band training or pulley systems that focus on rotation and chopping motions; specifically the core and gluteus muscles.
Pillar #4 - Flexibility
A healthy golf swing comes through flexibility. Rotational stresses from the
swing phase will put considerable pressure on the spine and the surrounding muscles. Having proper flexibility through stretching will help minimize the minor muscle strains in the back that easy snowball into severe injuries. An emphasis on increasing shoulder, upper, lower back and hips should be primary concern in order to avoid undue stress on compensatory muscles and joints.
Pillar #5 - Technique
Often technique is one of the most common causes of injuries, especially in amateur golfers. The golf swing is complex and has many different parts that make it nearly impossible to achieve the “perfect swing”. Routine coaching lessons, especially as a new player to fine tune a players swing, can eliminate poor technique and in the long run help with injury prevention and time spent in rehabilitation therapy when you rather be on the course.
In conclusion, making sure that you stay on top of injuries through treatment and preventing them from becoming chronic or having new ones arise is the key to helping you enjoy the game for years to come. Even better, preventing injuries from occurring rather than trying to fix an injury once it has occurred is most favorable to long-term health on and off the course.
Brandon B, Pearce PZ. Training to prevent golf injury. Current Sports Medicine Reports. (2009)8 (3): 142-146
Parziale, JR. Healthy swing: A golf rehabilitation model. American Journal
of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation. (2002) 81 (7): 498-501.
Read more about the author of this article: Dr Micaiah Meuer