7 Ways to Prevent Golf Injuries While Improving Your Swing

Golfer

While we typically think of golf as a low-impact, low-intensity sport, the incidence of injuries is quite high. Low back injuries are the most common, followed by elbow, wrist and shoulder injuries. Most golf injuries are the result of overuse or poor swing mechanics.

Prevention

To reduce your risk of golf injuries there are several steps you can take.

Warm Up. It has been shown that golfers who warm up before a round of golf have less than half the risk of injury compared to those who don't. Before your round, spend 10 minutes walking briskly, doing jumping jacks and stretching the spine, hips, wrists and shoulders. Begin swinging slowly and gradually building range of motion with your swing.

Focus on flexibility and range of motion. Improving your lead hip (left hip in right handed golfer) range of motion has been shown to decrease the incidence of low back pain. In general, regular stretching can improve your freedom of movement and allow for a more fluid golf swing. Yoga is a great way to stretch the hips year round.

Strengthening. Throughout the year, work on strengthening your core (hip and trunk), rotator cuff, upper back, wrists and grip. Club head speed can improve with a good strengthening program.

Start slowly and build your endurance. While practicing your swing can help your game, try starting slowly in the spring and building up your tolerance if your body is not ready for the repetitive nature of a driving range session coupled with a full round of golf. A good aerobic program throughout the year also can help to build your tolerance for those long days on the course.

Work on your swing mechanics

A good fluid golf swing can reduce your risk of injury.

Posture. Feet should be shoulder width apart and rotated slightly outward, with the knees slightly bent. Your spine should be fairly straight and tilted forward with most of the bending coming from your hips.

The swing should be smooth. Don't over swing. A swing that is too fast can create unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles. A good fluid golf swing comes from a smooth transfer of power from one body part to another. Depending on one body part for your power may increase your risk of injury.

Consider taking a lesson from a golf professional. Having a pro look at your swing can help to identify swing faults that may lead to injury.

The following links also may be beneficial:
http://www.uwhealth.org/sports-medicine/physical-therapy-athletic-training/golf-clinic/26787
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/golf-stretches/sls-20076248?s=1

Tom Gill is a physical therapist and outpatient therapy supervisor at SwedishAmerican.