We'll likely all agree that golf injuries suck. They ruin our rounds, stifle our progress, and have a nasty habit of striking at the most inconvenient times. They are, however, an inescapable reality for many of us.
With the golf season still in full flow, the last thing any of us wants is a niggling injury that limits our time on the golf course. Below we've listed some of the most common (and most annoying) golf injuries - and a few ideas to help you avoid them.
Lower Back Injury
The most common injury amongst golfers is pain in the lower back, often due to the strain placed upon it during the golf swing. When you repetitively swing with speed throughout an 18-hole round, there's always a chance that you might tweak something.
As well as those powerful rotational golf swing forces, your back has to deal with many other stresses and strains. Your stance over the putter, the downward pressure when carrying your golf bag, bending over to pick up your ball - they all contribute to your back's hard slog.
Golfer's elbow - or elbow tendinitis - is an injury to the inner tendon on your forearm which can be caused by hitting one fat or overusing your forearm muscles on the inside of the elbow to grip, flex, and rotate your arm when you swing.
While it's similar to the better-known 'tennis elbow', the strained tendon's location is the main difference. It's just as problematic as its tennis cousin and unlikely to go away without medical intervention if it does become severe.
Playing regular golf can be physically demanding, not least because it puts a ton of stress on the knee joints. With advancing age and plenty of rounds under your belt, knee injuries can become a common occurrence. In fact, they're the second most common golf-related injuries after the lower back.
Rotation at the beginning of your swing puts a lot of strain on the knee joint, so it's essential to warm up before you play and practice good body mechanics during your round.
Sprains or strains can be caused by a sudden knee twist, while 'Golfer's Knee' can occur through general overuse.
If you've had any sort of serious wrist injury in the past, you don't need us to tell you how devastating it can be for your game.
The more you achieve that desired downward strike on the ball - at times from tricky lies - the high-speed repetitive motion can damage the wrist joints. If you're prone to hitting the golf ball fat, not only will it hurt your scorecard, but catching the ball heavy on the reg can actually cause some blunt trauma.
The most common golf-related wrist injury is the swelling of the tendons responsible for wrist movement - often referred to as tendinitis. Some golfers may also experience frequent pain and tenderness on the top of the wrist when they complete the backswing - and at impact.
How to Prevent Golf Injuries
A solid warm-up before every round is a great way to avoid injury. Pre-round exercise also has a fantastic by-product of ensuring you are loose enough to put your best swing on the ball from the first tee.
Make sure you stretch thoroughly, focusing on every part of your body involved in the golf swing. Your hands, wrists, arms, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine and pelvis need to loosen up before hitting your first ball of the day.
Use Correct Posture
If you're one of the many golfers who stands over the ball with a poor posture - most often a hunched back - you could be on a slippery slope to future back or neck pain.
Achieving a stable athletic posture at set-up is one of the keys to a good golf swing, but it's also essential to help protect the muscles in your back and neck from injury.
In general, to achieve a good posture, you should:
- Stand up straight with your shoulders back
- Keep your arms relaxed and straight
- Hold the club at your waist
- Bend slightly from your hips, keeping your back straight until the club touches the grass
- Flex your knees slightly
- Keep your weight on the balls of your feet
Build Your Golf Fitness
Over time, working on your overall golf fitness is the best way to avoid a golf injury. It's something you should try to build gradually and mostly away from the golf course.
Engaging in other sports is always a good way of enhancing your aerobic fitness, while specific golf exercises can help ensure you have an improved range of motion the next time you tee it up.
You might already have your own exercise regime sorted, but if you need a nudge in the right direction, check out our previous article on improving your golf fitness.
Practice Good Swing Mechanics
A poor golf swing can cause or aggravate a golf injury, so it's essential to deal with any noticeable flaws that place too much strain on a particular part of your body.
Power should come from the force being transferred through all of your main muscle groups. If you rely on one part of your body for all the power in your swing, this could cause you issues down the line.
If you're struggling with your game - and/or picking up injuries - the best way to ensure you're effectively swinging the club is to link in with a golf coach for a steer in the right direction.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at our recent list of short game mistakes you need to avoid. You can read it here.