With the 2013 PGA championship upon us at nearby Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY, it may be a good time for those of us average golfers to rest our sore backs and arms and watch how the professionals do it.
The best way to prevent injuries is to use proper swing mechanics as instructed by a professional. It is also very important to stretch and warm up. Over 80% of golfers stretch less than 10 minutes. Pros and lower handicap players spend more time stretching and strengthening. A dedicated conditioning and warm up program can cut the incidence of golf injuries in half.
In general, golf is perceived as a low risk activity. However, serious injury is possible. I have seen head injuries suffered as a result of golf club thrown in anger. I have treated dislocated knees and twisted ankles from golf cart injuries. I have heard of individuals getting struck by lightning on a golf course. I have also heard that if lightening is upon you, it might be smart to lie flat in a sand trap. It is kind of ironic that I can be saved by a sand trip since they usually kill me. Thankfully, these traumatic injuries are rare.
On the other hand, most golfers will suffer from some type of overusage injury. Low back pain is the most common complaint. Golf relies on major amounts of repeated rotation and extension forces applied to the low back. A painful back may be the result of a muscle strain, skeletal joint inflammation or disc disease. Regardless, a sore back should be properly rested and rehabilitated. The second most common category of golf injuries involve the upper extremities. Elbow pain is most common amongst these injuries. Medial epicondylitis or “golfer’s elbow” can result when someone hits a “fat” shot. Lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow “occurs with repetitive over swinging.
Rest, ice, stretching, strengthening and occasional anti-inflammatory meds are all part of our treatment algorithm. If injured you should make two professional appointments – your doctor and your swing coach.
Written by Marc Fineberg, MD