Top Five Golf Tips

Bunker Shot Golf Magazine—May 20, 2014

Even the world’s best golfers are prone to injuries, as we’ve seen most recently with Tiger Woods. As a physical therapist, I help get golfers back in the game usually after they undergo orthopedic surgery. Here are the top five golf injuries and the best ways to prevent them:

1) Low Back Pain - This can be prevented with sufficient warm-up and stretching prior to play. The extensor muscles in your back enable you to keep the golf stance posture throughout your swing. It is extremely important to make sure they are flexible. Your core muscles play a major role in decreasing the stress and forces placed on one’s spine during golf. Engaging your deep core muscles before, during and after play will decrease risk of low back pain.

2) Medial Elbow Pain (Golfer’s Elbow) - Golfers elbow typically occurs for a few reasons.

  • Improper club fitting with improper hand grip on the club
  • Overuse of the arms during the swing and
  • Taking too much of a divot. These three things place an undue stress on the inside of the elbow joint. Prevention methods include proper club fitting, swinging through the ball instead of hitting behind the ball, and building adequate posterior shoulder strength, all of which can decrease the stress on the medial elbow. Your scapular stabilizing muscles are extremely important for alignment of your shoulder and elbow during the golf swing.

3) Hip Pain - Your hips are the primary driver of your swing. Rotational ranges of motion and torques placed on ones hips are extremely high. Sufficient hip internal and external rotation range of motion is needed to prevent injury to the joint, capsule, and surrounding soft tissue of your hip. A decrease in hip rotation range of motion has also been linked to a cause of low back pain in golfers. Warming up your hips before you play will make sure they are ready for the stresses placed through them during golf.

4) Shoulder Pain/ RTC Pain - Your shoulder, especially your rotator cuff and labrum, is asked to perform under rapid rotation during the golf swing. Throughout your backswing into your follow-through, your rotator cuff muscles and labrum are activated to ensure proper alignment within your shoulder complex. Proper stretching, especially of your pectorals and posterior musculature, before and after you play will help reduce injury. Building the strength of your posterior scapular muscles with your lower traps and rhomboids with a decrease in the activation of your upper traps will allow for proper mechanics in your swing.

5) Knee Pain - Your knee usually is not injured during golf, but increased forces can be placed on the medial and lateral sides of your knee. Meniscal injuries and lateral or medial collateral ligament injuries may occur during golf due to high velocity rotational torques. Building strength in your posterior hip musculature, gluteals and lateral quadriceps will reduce the stress placed on your knee. The knee “diving in” or a valgus stress placed especially on the trail leg can place the knee at risk for injury. Preventing this mal-alignment will reduce the risk of injury.

Gregory Reinhardt, PT, MSPT, has worked as a physical therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery since 2008. Greg has a specialized focus on hip and spine pathology and the rehabilitation of golfers.

To keep golfers healthy and injury free on and off the course, Hospital for Special Surgery developed a golf-specific online tool called “Protect Your Game.” To access and share this injury prevention portal visit: www.hss.edu/hssgolf

Read the full article on bunkershot.com.

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