Golf may look like a leisurely game that’s not physically demanding. But the truth is it can be a demanding sport that requires a lot of energy. Your body will need to move quickly and with precision while twisting from ankle to wrist. This was in evident display by the golfers during the recent HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. Whether you regularly enjoy a day on the golf course or a quick 9-hole, you may have experienced various aches, pains and sprains.
Read on for some tips by our physiotherapist on how to prevent the common golfing injuries.
1. Golfer’s Elbow
Medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow as it is commonly known, is a condition that develops when the tendons on the inside of the forearm become irritated, inflamed and painful. This condition is often diagnosed in those who perform repetitive movements of swinging a golf club, using a computer or other activities that involve gripping, twisting or throwing.
Golfer’s Elbow can present in early or late stages. Some common symptoms include pain when gripping, opening a jar or wringing your towel. Physiotherapy can help ease these symptoms through strengthening exercises, which is the gold standard treatment for golfer’s elbow, as well as massage and ultrasound therapy.
- Use proper form and technique when doing repetitive movements, like golf swings.
- Do gentle forearm muscle stretches before and after performing repetitive movements in the game.
- Maintain shoulder, forearm and wrist muscle strength through exercise and stretching.
2. Rotator Cuff Injury
Rotator cuff injuries are especially common in the sport of golf, as it is often related to overuse of the rotator cuff muscles. Both shoulders are active and useful in a golf swing. Rotator cuff strains or tears can occur when there is improper form or a lack of shoulder turn when swinging.
Rotator cuff injuries often cause a dull, aching pain in the shoulder and difficulties in reaching up to your head or behind your back. It can also cause weakness when lifting and pain when lying on the affected shoulder. Since rotator cuff injuries can be impairing, it is best to seek help when there’s an early onset of shoulder pain. Physiotherapy treatments include ultrasound therapy, sports taping and improving muscle strength and joint proprioception to reinforce stability.
- Ensure golf clubs are fitted for length and weight as longer clubs may be easier on the arms.
- Turn your body as you swing, and use your back to swing your arms instead of your shoulder muscles.
- Take care not to carry a golf bag on a sore shoulder.
3. Lower Back Pain
Golf is a game of muscle memory and its repetitive movements can cause inflammation, strain and other injuries of the muscles and discs of the spine resulting in back pain. The golf swing especially stresses the lower back and those with recurrent lower back pain may find their golf games hindered.
While lower back pain has numerous causes, golf related injuries have some distinct symptoms like a dull ache on your dominant side, numbness or electric-like pain in the leg and pain that goes to the hip or thigh. Physiotherapy is the safest first-line treatment for lower back pain with targeted treatments like electrical stimulation for pain relief, movement re-training and manual therapy to improve joint movements.
- Keep the feet shoulder-width apart and rotated outwards.
- Bend forward at the hips and bend the knees slightly.
- Practice your swing on both your dominant and non-dominant sides as lower back pain may arise due to rotating your body asymmetrically.
While enjoying the fun of golf, use good posture, invest in the right equipment and avoid carrying your clubs on one shoulder. Regular exercise can also go a long way towards being in shape and limber. Warm up before you tee up and remember to take breaks — playing excessively increases the likelihood of injury!
Early Evaluation, Treatment and Prevention
For any sports injury, including golf, get your symptoms evaluated and diagnosed by an experienced physiotherapist early to treat and prevent persistent, severe pain that may affect daily activities. Enlist the professionals from Physio & Sole Clinic — Singapore’s trusted one-stop physiotherapy clinic and podiatry centre.
The team of licensed physiotherapists and podiatrists work together to treat physical problems related to musculoskeletal pain, sports injury, foot pain and other related conditions that are common when playing golf. Physio & Sole Clinic’s movement experts are trained and experienced in treating and preventing golf injuries. Get in touch to book an appointment at one of Physio & Sole’s islandwide clinics across Singapore.