Usually, we don’t think of golf as a dangerous or risky sport. We imagine strolling around beautiful courses and hitting a ball every now and again.
Getting injured from golf doesn’t really spring to mind. But injury through golf, whether over time or from one instance, is surprisingly common.
Luckily, avoiding these injuries boils down to just a few simple things that are easy to do and take almost no time out of your day.
We’re going to cover the five most common golf injuries, what typically causes them, and what you can do to avoid getting hurt.
- Back injury from golf
- Elbow injuries from golf
- Knee injuries from golf
- Shoulder injury from golf
- Wrist injury from golf
So let’s begin…
1. Golf Back injury
During a round of golf, you’re using your back a lot: rotating when swinging, carrying your bag, bending to putt, and even bending over to pick up your ball.
It’s therefore no surprise that back injuries are the most common among golf players. The most common being in the lower back, especially on the right-hand side if you’re right-handed, and vice versa.
Even professionals struggle to avoid it. Just look at Tiger, who has a long history of back injuries that hugely affected his career.
A back injury can also be one of the most painful and restricting injuries, often making it near impossible to swing a club.
Back Injury – What are the causes?
The majority of golf-related back injuries are caused by improper swing technique.
A golf swing that is too aggressive or forceful can lead to back muscle strains, and also will put considerable pressure on the spine’s discs and ligaments.
On top of this, poor spinal mobility and a weak core are some of the main culprits. As we get older these things naturally worsen, meaning senior golfers are more vulnerable to back pain.
A strong core is essential to stabilising your swing; a weak core will result in a poor posture, either arching the back or rounding the shoulders over the club as you swing.
How to avoid back injury?
Practicing proper swing technique is the best way to avoid back problems in golf.
Of course, we all want a perfect technique to be scoring lower, but a smooth and controlled swing will also help avoid back problems down the line.
Avoid hitting the ball as hard as possible, as this will over-exert the back muscles.
A proper stance with bent knees and your feet shoulder-width apart will give you better balance, which is another key aspect of the correct swing technique.
If you feel like you need some additional support with your swing, consider consulting a swing coach. The injuries you can avoid from bettering your swing might be worth it.
Additionally, take the time to warm up for at least ten minutes before you start to play or practice. This will loosen your muscles and make the chances of a tear much less likely.
Take a short brisk walk, do some stretching, and slowly start to swing your club to gradually increase your range of motion.
2. Golf Elbow injury
Often golfers can suffer from irritation and inflammation of the tendon tissue in the elbow, especially in the dominant arm, often resulting in tendonitis.
Golfer’s elbow is a form of tendonitis. This is the inflammation of the elbow’s inner tendons.
If you have golfers elbow, you might experience:
- Tenderness in the elbow
- Pain or difficulty when swinging clubs
- Pain when bending arm or making a fist
What causes golfer’s elbow?
This golfing injury is typically caused by hitting the ground first during a shot, as well as overuse of the forearm muscles to grip, flex and rotate your wrists whilst swinging.
Lots of repetition of the same movements in golf means that playing frequently over a long period of time puts your elbows under substantial pressure.
How to avoid Golfer’s Elbow
Strengthening and stretching your forearm muscles is the best way to prevent tendonitis in your elbows.
This means stretching both the flexors and the extensors.
Squeezing a tennis ball can be a great way to improve your forearm strength. Gently squeeze for five seconds, relax, and repeat about ten times for each arm.
Additionally, make sure you’re not gripping your clubs too tight. You want to apply just the right amount of pressure; on a scale of 1-10, your grip pressure should be about a 5 or 6.
3. Golf Knee injury
Knee injuries can be very painful, and golf can often be a direct cause of them.
This common golf injury can materialise in different ways, with some of the worst being a torn ACL or meniscus.
To be hitting the golf ball at your best, you want to be able to bend your knees without any pain or restriction of motion, so avoiding knee injury is crucial.
How do knee Injuries happen in golf?
Excessive amounts of strain and pressure placed on the knee joints over time can lead to knee pain.
Once again, this makes older players who have been playing for a long time more at risk.
Often, the knees are put under extra pressure when your hips have a limited range of motion. Your body, therefore, relies on the knees more to stabilize your movements whilst swinging.
How to avoid Golf Knee injury
Once again, improving strength and flexibility will be your friend here. Weak knees and inflexible hips will cause issues, so doing exercises to combat this is important.
This guide shows some excellent exercises for strengthening the knees.
Finding a hip-stretching routine that suits you will open up your hips and take a lot of pressure off the knees. This video demonstrates four simple hip-stretches that can be used daily.
4. Golf Shoulder Injury
As the shoulder is one of the biggest components in a golf swing, it’s no shock that shoulder injuries are amongst some of the most common in golf.
The most common shoulder injury is a tear of the rotator cuff (the group of muscles surrounding the shoulder joint), but they are also vulnerable to sprains, arthritis, and even dislocations in extreme cases.
What causes shoulder injury For Golfers?
Golf is a sport of intense repetitive motion, meaning the muscle groups involved in swinging go through a lot of wear and tear.
Very often golfers develop problems with their lead shoulder; the external rotation involved in the backswing puts the muscles under substantial stress.
If your shoulders are particularly tight and lack flexibility, regularly playing golf could cause injury here.
How to prevent shoulder injury?
As always, make sure to stretch.
Stretching the shoulders before and after swinging a golf club will help loosen the muscles and reduce that likelihood of you hurting yourself.
Practicing correct technique will also help prevent shoulder pain. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, and make sure your posture is good (straight spine).
Don’t just rely on your shoulders for your back-swing, an effective golf swing will use the whole body. Once again, asking for help from a coach can be worthwhile if you feel you struggle with this.
5. Golf Wrist Injury
If you have played golf for a while, chances are you’ve experienced a few shots that really stung, and it can be really painful!
The wrists are put through a lot in golf. Wrist sprains and tendonitis are very common.
Causes Of Wrist Injury From Golfing
Golf is not particularly good for the wrists. Hitting down on the ground and repetitively taking divots leads to a lot of stress on the wrist joints and ligaments.
Vibrations travel up the club shaft when we strike the ball (or the ground), and the hands and wrists absorb the majority of them.
Having clubs that are not properly fitted or are made of certain materials can also lead to wrist injury.
Even hitting a tree root or a rock by accident can result in injury. Tiger Woods did this at the 2015 Masters attempting a shot in the final round.
How to avoid Wrist injury
Strengthening the wrists will be a huge help in avoiding injury. Weakness in vulnerable body parts are what cause the majority of golf injuries, so a stronger body equals less injury.
For a good wrist-strengthening exercise, try this:
- With your arms hanging down and relaxed, hold an iron in your hand, and use your wrist to bring the club head up off the floor as high as you can.
- Try not to use your arm at all, just the wrist and forearm muscles.
- Slowly lower it down in a controlled way, and repeat this 15 times on each side.
Doing this exercise daily will help you to avoid injury and improve your form.
Strong wrists are also crucial to proper striking technique as the wrist help control the club and provide power through impact.
Finally, if you feel your wrists are especially vulnerable, consider a graphite shafted club.
Graphite shafts absorb vibrations much better than steel, which clubs are typically made from. This will reduce the stress placed on the wrists at impact and help to avoid injury.
When it comes to golf injuries, it’s sometimes impossible to avoid them completely. The nature of the sport results in a lot of repetition of strenuous movements.
But, you can reduce the likelihood of most injuries (or of worsening an injury) through practicing proper technique, stretching and strengthening the body parts at risk, and by ensuring you have the golf equipment that is right for you.
You will thank yourself for taking the small amount of time at home and before playing to prepare your body.
Having strong and flexible muscles will help to extend your golfing life, so that you can enjoy the sport for as long as possible!