Avoid golf injury

One of our physiotherapists Chris Wearing offers advice on common injuries the clinic see with golfers, and ways to avoid golf injury:

I first remember picking up a golf club when I was 8 years old. From that moment on I was hooked! Over the years of playing golf, I myself, have had to call upon the help of a physio on several occasions. From going through my teenage years and suffering from growing pains to more recently developing low back problems, which have prevented me from playing.

As you can see from my own experiences above, golf can be very demanding; requiring strength, endurance, flexibility and athletic ability to perform a movement that produces some of the fastest club head and ball speeds of any sport. The effect of these repeated large forces on the body can lead to many different types of injuries, which are often specific to certain areas and sides of the body in golfers.

The most common golf related injuries we see here at Harris & Ross can often be alleviated with some simple but effective counter stretches* that we prescribe for them. Read on for the best ways to avoid golf injury:

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) 
Surprisingly, ‘golfer’s elbow’ isn’t seen as common in golfers as ‘tennis elbow’! This is mainly due to its poor labelling and a big change in the techniques and equipment used in golf over the years.

Best counter stretch: Wrist flexion stretch
Extend one arm out in front with the elbow straight.
Use the other hand to grasp it at the side of the thumb and bend the wrist downward.
Turn wrist towards the small finger to increase the stretch.

Lower back injuries- Non-specific low back pain
There are a large range of conditions involving many structures that can be injured or develop pathologies in the lower back. These can cause pain among other symptoms and affect range of movement. The small joints (facet joints), connective tissues (ligaments, muscles, tendons), discs, and nervous tissues may be involved.  Acute conditions such as sprains and strains and the normal effects of ageing cause these structures to wear and reduce their ability to tolerate the high forces and ranges of movement that are required in the golf swing.  However, the soreness and stiffness that people often present with is called ‘non specific’ as it is not usually clear which structure is causing the problem and/or pain.

Best counter stretches: 

Lumbar extension
Lie on your stomach with your elbows on the floor and the chin tucked in or resting in your hands.
Relax both your back and buttock muscles and maintain the position.
Your hips must be touching the floor.

Lumbar flexion
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Raise one knee towards your chest as far as you can, and then raise the other to meet it. Place your hands around your knees and pull them gently towards you until you feel a stretch in your back. Relax.

Rotation Stretch
Lie on your back, then bring one knee toward your face so that your hip is flexed to 90 degrees. With the opposite hand, pull it sideways toward the floor to feel a stretch in the lower back/buttock. Keep the shoulders flat on the ground during the stretch.

Rotator cuff injury
The shoulder is an extremely complex joint. There are two main causes of injury to this area -acute trauma and degeneration (chronic and cumulative).
Muscle/tendon tears can occur from injuries such as a fall onto the arm, sudden lifting, rapid movement of the arm (such as in the golf swing) or sudden and unexpected deceleration of the club head (i.e. hitting a tree root or getting the club head stuck in thick rough).  Repetitive movements of the golf swing combined with poor technique and/or flexibility & control issues can lead to injuries to the shoulder and rotator cuff. Avoid golf injury in your rotator cuff with the following stretches:

Best counter stretches:

Thoracic rotation 
Sit tall. Cross your arms on your chest. Slowly twist your trunk to one side.
Slowly return to the neutral position and repeat to the other side.

External Rotation with band
Stand and hold the ends of an elastic in your hands, tuck your elbows in by your sides and bend your elbows 90°. Have no slack in the theraband. Rotate the shoulders by moving your hands away from each other, keeping your elbows tucked in by your sides.
Return and repeat. Pull symmetrically. You can use a mirror to monitor the movement.

Row with band 
Hold the tubing handles in each hand, your forearm parallel to the ground.
With the elbows slightly in front of your trunk and palms facing each other, squeeze the shoulder blades together against the pull of the band.
Return and repeat. Do not poke out the chin or arch your lower back while you do the exercise.

Wrist Injuries
These injuries can occur in isolation or combined and can be caused by high force trauma, such as hitting a tree root or thick grass, rapid increase in loading, continued excessive loading and technique faults. Common injuries are tendinopathies or a sprain.

Best Counter Stretches:
Wrist flexion (as above)

Wrist extension stretch 
Sit in a chair placed next to a table. Place your forearm on the table while letting your hand dangle off the edge of the table. Lift the back of your hand upwards while assisting with your other hand. Repeat.

*whilst these exercises can alleviate mild issues if you have prolonged problems and pain be sure to consult a professional.

If you have any concerns about injury affecting your ability to play golf, call Harris & Ross on 0161 832 9000 for an hour initial assessment.