If you have played golf for any length of time, you’ve suffered the physical consequences. Bad form on your swing or other improper techniques not only has a negative impact on your scorecard, but also in your health. Repeated activity can have a cumulative effect on your swing and your overall well-being.
It’s important that you stick to the fundamentals not just to improve your game, but also to preserve your health. Proper swing mechanics, pre- and post-round stretching, and maintaining the right grip are among the keys to shooting low and staying healthy.
We’re not doctors, nor do we play one on TV, so consult a medical professional if you are experiencing pain and discomfort. But we can recommend a few keys to staying healthy, like rest, household therapies, braces and over-the-counter medications. Here are some common injuries for golfers, along with ways to avoid them:
· Back: This is the most common and painful injury suffered by golfers; usually as a result of poor swing form. A rushed swing in an effort to generate more power can create too much torque on back muscles, discs, nerves and the neck, especially if you have a history of back-related issues, such as arthritis, bulging discs, etc. Have a pro analyze your swing to work out some of the kinks, and use some back-stretching techniques before and during your round. Try slowing down your swing to put an added focus on form.
· Elbows: The doctors who coined the phrase “tennis elbow” must not have been big golfers, because this injury is as common among those who chase the little white ball as those who hit the furry green ones. If you’ve played either sport, you know the pain and tenderness in the elbow experienced with each swing of the club or racquet. This is often the result of overstress of the bursar sacs that lubricate the joint. Switch to graphite shafts and low compression balls, and try loosening your grip a bit to ease some of the stress on the elbows.
· Knees: Lower-leg injuries are fairly uncommon in golf but when it does, it’s usually the knees. Often caused by twisting as you uncoil your swing and improper bending and flexing, a poor stance can create the entire force of your swing to release in the knee, tearing a ligament or the meniscus as a result. If you feel shifting in the knee as you swing or walk, stop playing before you do more damage. Try a knee brace or spike less shoes to lessen some pressure on the knee.
· Shoulders: Pain in the shoulder can ruin your game, forcing you to slice as you compensate for the discomfort of a full backswing. This is often caused by improper rotation and such swings can take a cumulative toll on your shoulders, such as a tear in the rotator cuff, scapular lag or AC joint. Try flattening your swing plane and slowing down your back swing to reduce stress on the shoulder.
· Wrists/Hands: An improper grip can create all kinds of issues with your wrists and hands, such as Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, an injured Hamate Bone (on the pinky side of your hand), ECU Tendon Sublaxation (clicking noise inside your wrist and pain at the bone points), Trigger Finger (the locking up of the fingers and numbness), and DeQuervain’s Tendinitis (pain at the base of the thumb). These conditions can be extremely painful, especially at the point of impact, and have a negative impact on your game. A bad grip is bad news for your game and your health.