Golf is one of the most popular games in the world, with over 55 million people playing each year. Did you know that nearly 30% of those will experience back pain after every round? Not to mention other ailments in the knee, hip, shoulder and wrist. Often we simply deal with the pain and continue on, but for most of us, this leads to further injury and often time away from the golf course. Nothing could be more frustrating.

Most amateur golfers will present to medical professionals with injury caused by a number of common swing faults that are actually a result of physical limitations with our body. If certain key parts of the body are lacking in either mobility (movement) or stability (strength), incorrect/altered movement patterns will arise. As a result, we can overstress different structures, ultimately leading to injury, pain and frustration.

Golf Injuries & Prevention

Common lower back injuries can include:

  • Disc injury
  • Muscle strain or ligament sprain
  • Joint degeneration/arthritis
  • Stress fracture
  • Dysfunctional movement patterns

Other common injuries experienced by golfers include:

  • Golfers/”tennis elbow”
  • Shoulder pain – rotator cuff impingement
  • Hip arthritis
  • Meniscus injury in the knee

On the flip side to these damning injury rates, is our performance. How far I drive the ball? How accurate my long irons are. How my concentration levels change through my round (rushing putts and misreading conditions)? These are all key components to our overall performance. Unfortunately, I have not met any golfers that perform better when injured.

With professional golfers, almost 80% of the injuries come from overuse simply due to the time they spend on the golf course or at the driving range. Injuries in amateur golfers can be caused by overuse, but in most cases, they occur due to swing patterns developed around physical limitations.

With the advent of very precise golf screening techniques, we can now assess the body for these physical limitations. This gives us an amazing insight into what areas in the body will need to improve, in order to not only enhance performance, but help prevent injury. It is also a very useful tool to help injured golfers return to play quicker, as we can isolate the causes behind the injury.

Take this for an example: whilst in a sitting position, keep your knees and feet together whilst crossing your arms. Then turn your shoulders to the right. If you cannot turn past the 45 degrees from the starting position, you are likely to develop swing characteristics that cause an early loss of posture in the golf swing. This will lead to a loss of power and driving distance, and ultimately excessive stress on your lower back and shoulders (note: the PGA player average for this test is 58-60 degrees). This stress on the back can cause disc bulges, muscle and ligament strain or facet joint arthritis.

People who are appropriate for the physical screen and swing analysis are those who want to:

  • Prevent future injury
  • Understand and solve current injury
  • Improve fitness and golf related strength
  • Find ways to improve their game

What do we do with the results?

  • Education – help you understand what is happening
  • Devise a plan – addressing the key areas to improve
  • Work with your golf coach – correcting swing faults

If you suffer from a golf injury or you would like to improve your golf and prevent any injuries, please click to find out more about the available physiotherapy treatments. Alternatively, get in touch with your local PhysioActive clinic to arrange an appointment.

Thanks for reading!

This post has been written by PhysioActive physiotherapist Joel Bates B.Sc – Physiotherapist, Manual Therapist, Sports Therapist, Golf Therapist

Joel is a Titleist Performance Institute Certified Professional. He leads the PhysioActive Performance Golf Program, applying this training to helping golfers of all ages and standards. Screening and swing analysis can be performed in the clinic or at your golf course/range.

The Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) is the world’s leading educational organization and research facility dedicated to the study of how the human body functions in relation to the golf swing. TPI has screened and analyzed thousands of professional and amateur golfers.

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