Golf is one of the most well known and interesting sports. The modern golf game originated in 15th-century Scotland and has since spread successfully around the world. Playing golf requires high mental concentration along with physical components such as good body balance, muscle strength, muscle flexibility. Body coordination contributes to performing the proper movement while playing golf accurately. If players lack good physical components, they may incur injuries or perform poorly while they are on the course.
Phases of the Golf Swing
In order to understand golf injuries, it is useful to know the movements of golf. From this, we can know the causes of various injuries that can happen during performing these movements. There are many patterns to playing golf, but the most common one is called the modern golf swing which is a complex movement of the body involving the movement of upper limbs and a fixed pelvic base. This swing can be separated into five subphases. Maddalozzo et. al. (1987)
(A) Address position: the player prepares to hit the ball
(B) Early backswing: the club is initially drawn back to store energy
(C) Top of backswing: the club is parallel to the ground
(D) Mid downswing: followed by the backswing to bring the club back towards the ball
(E) Prior to impact: before hitting the ball
(F) Mid-follow-through: after the transfer of energy to the ball, there is follow-through with momentum
(G) End follow-through: finishes up beyond the parallel
Five Common Injuries in Golf Players
Performing golf is complex and necessitates the coordination of muscles from the whole body. Consequently, there are several injuries that can occur during this sport.
Back pain: while performing backswing and downswing, many players have a high risk of back injury due to rotational stress. Back muscle spasm is usually found in this sport causing inflamed and muscle contraction. Moreover, rotational stress to spinal or facet joints can hurt the player’s back and cause facet joint arthropathy. Physical therapy using ultrasound therapy, moist heat, ice massage, stretching exercise and soft tissue release, combined with core muscle stabilization exercises can relieve this pain and prevent recurrent injuries.
Golfer/Tennis elbow: these injuries are frequently seen in golf players because of the repetitive and overused forearm muscles. The consequence is known as lateral/medial tpicondylitis which is pain on the inside and outside of the elbows. Activities that aggravate the pain include holding a heavy club or playing golf without stretching and warming up the forearm muscles. Treatments include a combination of ultrasound therapy, shockwave therapy, hot pack, a cold pack as well as stretching exercises of the forearm muscles assisted by a physical therapist.
Rotator cuff injury: The rotator cuff consists of four muscles which stabilize the shoulders. Some parts of the swing can cause rotator cuff impingement – especially the arm overhead position with shoulder internal rotation. If the injury is prolonged, the player may experience a rotator cuff tear. The pain creates suffering and inhibits the player’s game. Regularly strengthening the rotator cuff muscles can help prevent these injuries. Working with a physical therapist can help with pain relief.
Knee injury: As a player stabilizes their hips from axial rotational stress, they may have knee pain from muscle strain, ligament sprain or meniscus injury. A weakness of knee muscles, mainly quadriceps, and hamstrings, leads to a high risk for these injuries. If the player has knee pain, they should see a physician and a physical therapist for pain relief. They should learn to maintain their knee muscle strength and flexibility for preventing further injuries.
Wrist and hand injuries: There are several wrist and hand injuries that often arise from playing golf. Wrist ligament sprain and tendonitis typically occur in the leading hand. Moreover, when the club strikes the ground, forcing the handle against the hook of hamate bone it can lead to a break in the bone. The player suffers from significant pain and their game is hindered. Warming up the wrist muscles before playing can be significantly helpful for decreasing the risk of injuries.
What can we do after a golf Injury?
When you have acute golf injuries, the first thing to do is stop playing and find a safe place for rest.
The PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), is part of many treatment protocols and should be applied as soon as possible. After an acute stage of injury, musculoskeletal rehabilitation is important for activating the muscles again. Working with a physical therapist is crucial. They can offer customized stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, coordination/balance training and as well as sport-specific skill training for returning to the game.