As the weather warms up, many recreational golfers are taking out their clubs for the first time in months. While golf isn’t an aerobic sport and doesn’t seem like it would cause many injuries, many people do experience low back pain from playing golf. The Rehabilitation Department at the Hospital for Special Surgery provides the following tips to keep your body healthy and to prevent golf injuries:
1. Always warm up and stretch before playing or hitting at the practice range. A proper warm up such as walking, a slow jog, or low level calisthenics elevate your core temperature and increase blood flow to muscles. Stretching will increase flexibility and reduce the risk of muscle/tendon injuries.
2. Stretching should not be restricted to the shoulder and elbow. The legs and hips should also be included. Remember, golf involves a great deal of walking and the golf swing has a significant contribution from the lower body.
3. Pay particular attention to hamstring flexibility. Tight hamstrings have a negative effect on posture and increase pressure on the low back. Low back pain is the most common injury for recreational golfers.
4. Perform exercises to increase your trunk flexibility. One of the main differences between professional and amateur golfers is the amount of trunk rotation. Increasing trunk rotation during the backswing allows you to store more energy and generate more clubhead speed. This can result in greater distance.
5. Perform strengthening exercises for your legs and hips. Power of the golf swing begins at the hips. Strong, stable hips and thighs help to maintain posture throughout the swing and allow the swing to be more explosive. The hips and legs also absorb forces from the upper body during the follow through reducing the chances of injury.