Golf should be a time for gentle focus, determination, and relaxation… not acute pain or stress over an injury.
However, as with many other sports and athletic activities, there’s always a chance for injury or strain. While it’s important to warm up properly and stretch before you engage in any sort of physical activity, you may still be at risk of straining your muscles—especially in a game as shoulder-intensive as golf.
My goal is to help you protect your shoulders, and the rest of your body, from injury. As you gear up to enjoy a day of your favorite game, keep these common golf injuries (and the following tips for preventing them) in mind.
Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
What muscles are you using when you swing a golf club? Spoiler alert: it’s your shoulders. More specifically, it’s your rotator cuff. This is actually a group of four muscles that rest above the top of your arm. Your rotator cuff helps your arm rotate and your shoulder move comfortably.
Your rotator cuff is crucial to your golf swing—which is why it’s so prone to injury. Overuse, and improper technique, can cause these muscles and tendons to inflame—causing severe pain and loss of mobility.
If you’re experiencing rotator cuff tendinitis, meet with a doctor immediately. They will likely recommend plenty of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicines. If you’re worried that you’ve pulled a muscle or injured yourself by golfing, but can’t get to the doctor right away, rely on the tried and true RICE method:
Consider your most impressive golf swing. As you follow through, and watch that puppy soar across the sky and towards its intended mark, think about your shoulders. Are you elevating them during the follow through, instead of lifting your trunk and hips? This improper technique may be putting unnecessary strain on your shoulders—and your rotator cuff.
Impingement refers to the thickening of the tendons in your shoulders, which renders them unable to slide underneath the subacromial space. This severely limits their range of motion, affecting both your swing and your way of life. If left untreated, impingement syndrome will lead to more acute rotator cuff tendinitis.
Lower Back Strain
You can’t forget about your back!
When not executed correctly, certain golfing techniques can wreak havoc on your back. One of the most common injuries I see as a result of golfing is strain on the lower back.
A large part of the way you golf has to do with your back. Not only does your swing affect your spinal health, your golf stance may be negatively impacting it as well. To help give your swing that extra push, you’re likely straining the muscles in your lumbar spine.
In addition, you may be causing unnecessary strain to your back by lugging heavy equipment across several miles or by simply bending over to scoop up your golf balls.
While injuries like these are par for the course, there are many ways to prevent them.
How to Prevent Injuries & Strain From Golfing
- Thoroughly stretch before golfing, but focus on your shoulders, back, and legs
- If you’re worried that your form isn’t up to par, meet with a golfing coach or specialist for pointers
- Find a golf bag with a built-in stand, so you won’t have to bend over to pick it up every time
- When picking up golf balls from the ground, bend your knees
Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Golf-Related Injuries
If you’re worried that you may have strained a muscle while golfing, don’t hesitate to see a professional! Golf is one of life’s greatest games, so I want to make sure you can continue to enjoy your passions in the Triangle.
Worried about some lingering shoulder pain after a few days on the greens? Please give me a call. Although I’m a longtime surgeon, I believe that surgery should always be a last resort. I will work with you to come up with an effective treatment plan you’re comfortable with before recommending a surgical procedure.