Golf is one of the few sports that can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. But, in spite of the fact that golf is considered a low-intensity sport, it is not an injury free activity. The most common injuries among golfers occur in the elbow, wrist, low back and shoulder and are caused primarily by overuse or poor swing mechanics.
The golf swing is a complicated series of motions requiring coordination, flexibility, balance, strength, and power.
Age and body mechanics become an important factor leading golfers to make modifications to their swing mechanics to obtain the power in the backswing often lost with decreases in flexibility and rotation. Without the expertise of a golfing professional, however, golfers making these swing modifications may compromise their performance and put themselves at risk for musculoskeletal injury.
What to do if you have an injury? See your physician. He/she can help you decide whether physical therapy can help.
Choose a physical therapist that has a good understanding of the mechanics and basic science of the golf swing. Armed with this information they are best suited to create a golf specific rehabilitation program. No matter what your age or golfing ability; proper technique is the first step in preventing injury.
First, start each game with a 5-10 minute warm up and complete stretching program. This will help you to prepare your muscles to rotate and generate the power to pull the club head through your golf swing. Secondly, work together with your course professional to address your specific swing flaws. You may require retooling the mechanics of your entire swing or simply shortening the backswing or follow- through to limit the forces placed on your shoulder in these positions.
Finally, golf smart. A decline in range-of-motion, strength, disease or injury doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the game.
Consider the team approach. Enlist the help of your golfing professional and physical therapist to help you stay on course with the sport that you truly enjoy.Brian Beaulieu, MPT, OCS, is the Southside Regional Director for Tidewater Physical Therapy, Inc.