Golf is an extremely complicated sport when it comes to analyzing the biomechanics of one’s swing. Due to the swing being such an asymmetrical repetitive motion, it places the body under huge amounts of stress from multiple directions. The body is not designed to withstand these unnatural forces and without enough strength and mobility, this could lead to various injuries throughout the body.
Golf techniques prone to injuries:
- Casting – when a golfer uses excessive wrist action in their back swing, hoping to achieve a greater range of motion and increased distance, it can become problematic. This action leads to a large eccentric contraction (lengthening of the muscles) of the leading arm and concentric contraction (shortening of the muscle) of the forearm flexors of the following arm. Repeatedly doing this in a swing can lead to lateral and medial epicondylitis.
- Sway – When a golfer attempts to gain momentum by shifting the weight backwards with the backswing and then pushing it forwards with the actual swing, it predisposes one to hip and back injuries due to the excessive movement.
- Weight shift – a weight shift within a golf swing is extremely important when it comes to the biomechanics of the rest of the body. Golfers who don’t shift their weight during their swing often compensate by using other parts of the body. The shoulders and the thoracic spine are usually the sections which take the strain, leading to injury.
Common injury areas:
- Lower back – For all the avid golfers who spend many hours hunched over their clubs to inevitably improve their game, may be doing more damage than good.
When standing hinged over your clubs for hours on end and then adding rotational forces to that already loaded lower back, it places large amounts of stress to that area. Without some core training, back strengthening and derotating your spine, lower back pain is inevitable.
- Rotator cuffs – The rotator cuffs, are four stabilizing muscles within the shoulder. If the incorrect biomechanics are repetitively used during a golf swing, this could very easily lead to impingement’s and even tears of the muscles. This makes shoulder stability and strength training a vital component for golfers.
- Elbow – Two commonly know injuries with regards to the elbow are know as “golfers elbow” and “tennis elbow”. Golfers elbow: refers to the irritation and inflammation of the tendon on the inner side of the elbow. Surprisingly tennis elbow is more common in golfers. Tennis elbow: refers to the irritation and inflammation of the tendon on the outer surface of the elbow. Treating tendinitis can be a tedious task, however, it involves strengthening of the forearm muscles and tendons, reducing inflammation and correcting your technique to avoid the unwanted repetitive stresses.
- Knee – Knee injuries vary in type and severity when it comes to golf. During the golf swing, your knees serve as the point of stabilization while the hips are rotating. This becomes problematic with weak knees as the knees move out of alignment and this places large amounts of stress on them. Strengthening and stretching the muscles surrounding the knees is of utmost importance to prevent any knee pain.
- Wrist – The wrists take a large proportion of the impact when striking a golf ball. If the wrists are not strong enough to withstand these forces, they can become irritated and inflamed, leading to possible tendinitis. For this reason it is paramount to strengthen the wrists and forearm muscles.
Preventing these injuries:
Lower back pain:
Two common causes of lower back pain involve; a weak core and tight muscles (very often tight hamstrings which cause a malalignment of the pelvis).
Core strengthening is an essential component that should be incorporated into all training programs as the core serves as the bodies center of balance and stability. Working the core and ensuring the correct engagement allows for the muscles of the lower back, hips, pelvis and abdomen to work in harmony. When the muscles work in harmony it creates an ideal environment for the body to work in and prevents any unwanted movements.
Core exercises: Dead bug
How to do it:
- Lie face up with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your legs in a tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). This is starting position.
- Slowly extend your right leg out straight, while simultaneously dropping your left arm overhead. Keep both a few inches from the ground. Squeeze your butt and keep your core engaged the entire time, lower back pressed into the floor.
- Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side, extending your left leg and your right arm.
Rotator cuff injuries:
Your rotator cuff muscles are made up of a group of four muscles within the shoulder/scapular area: teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus and subscapularis. These muscles serve a very important role in shoulder movement and stability. Rotator cuff injuries often occur due to overuse and improper functioning of these muscles. This makes strengthening these muscles very important, especially in golf, due to the biomechanics associated with the golf swing and stance.
Rotator cuff exercises: Isometric internal and external rotation
How to do it:
- External rotation: Bend your elbow 90 degrees, make a fist, and press the back of your hand into the wall as if you were rotating your arm outwards.
- Use a small towel for a little padding, if needed.
- Gently press into the wall for about five seconds. Slowly release pressure on the wall. Stop the exercise if you feel any increased pain.
- Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 repetitions, and then start the next rotator cuff isometric exercise.
- Internal rotation: Bend your elbow 90 degrees, make a fist, and gently press into the corner wall or door jamb as if you were trying to rotate your hand inwards towards your belly button.
- Remember, no motion should occur in your shoulder during the exercise.
Elbow: Tennis elbow (Lateral epicondylitis)
Treating lateral epicondylitis can be a tricky and frustrating process. Tendons have a poor vascular supply and this makes their healing process take much longer than many other parts of the body. Rehab and injury prevention of tennis elbow involves resting the arm and allowing the muscles and tendons to recover as well as strengthening the forearm muscles.
Tennis elbow exercises: finger web exercises
How to do it:
- Placing the hands and fingers in different positions in/around the web and squeezing, extending, pulling or pushing apart the web.
- These exercises can be done for the wrist.
Knee stability and leg strength is paramount in more than just a golf setting. The legs are essential components in allowing us to move around independently and complete many activities of daily living. They are our base of support for the rest of the body and need enough strength and stability to allow us to complete desired tasks.
Leg strengthening exercises: Quad and Hamstring setting
How to do it:
- Quadriceps setting:
- Lie flat or sit with your leg straight.
- Tighten the muscle in the front of your thigh as much as you can, pushing the back of your knee flat against the floor. This will pull your kneecap up your thigh, toward your hip.
- Hold the muscle tight for around 10 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise .
- Hamstring setting: Lie on your back on the floor or a bed.
- Pull your heel into the floor or bed as much as you can.
- Hold this position for around 10 seconds.
To prevent any unwanted golf injuries or to maintain the strength and mobility needed to carry on playing a pain free golf game, contact us and let us help you.