Michigan is great (dare we say perfect?) for the outdoor adventurist. And for many, hitting the golf course is high up on the list of activities that make Michigan so enjoyable this time of year. Warmer weather on the way is sure to get you in the mood to hit the course for a round sometime soon.
Whether you’re a golf newbie or a seasoned veteran, this sport doesn’t come without risk of injury. Trevor Lopez, an athletic trainer at Henry Ford Health, talks about some of the most common golf-related pains and strains, and how to prevent them so you can enjoy the entire golf season.
Golf Injury #1: Back Pain
Back pain is arguably the most common ailment that affects golfers. The biggest culprit of this ache? Having a weak core.
“The core is where your power and stabilization through your swing comes from, and when these muscles are weak, it can lead to poor posture – either arching your back or rounding your shoulders over the club – which can lead to back pain,” Lopez says.
When getting into your golf stance, remember to keep your back as flat as possible to avoid aggravating your back muscles or forcing them to overcompensate for poor form.
Golf Injury #2: Elbow Pain
Another common injury related to golf is pain in the elbow. This type of pain is muscle-related and is associated with performing the same movement (swinging a golf club) over and over. Stretching out your muscles before a round of golf and after as part of a cool down can help alleviate this pain and even prevent it from happening.
Golf Injury #3: Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain frequently affects golfers, and like with elbow pain, this pain is related to the muscles and due primarily to the repetitive motion of swinging a golf club. It can also be due to bad form as you get ready to swing.
“Stretching your arms and opening your shoulders up before you start playing will help you avoid muscle soreness,” Lopez says. “Icing after golf also helps keep any inflammation down and helps calm the muscles.”
Exercises To Help You Stay Injury Free On The Golf Course
According to Lopez, injury prevention starts before you get out to the course. Use these tips to help you keep your form, avoid injury and improve your game.
- Always warm up and stretch. “The biggest thing is to do some type of warm up,” he says. “Because golf is more of a relaxed sport, people tend to forget they need to warm up. They just go out to the first tee and start playing, and that’s where injuries happen.”
- Strengthen your core. From avoiding pain to harnessing more power on your swing, a strong core will keep your pain free and help improve your golf game. To do so, work on strengthening abdominal and gluteal muscles.
- Mobilize your hips. Lopez recommends performing dynamic movements, like hip swings and mimicking your golf swing with less power to warm your joints and muscles up.
- Improve your balance. Being able to shift your weight while maintaining balance is an important part of controlling your swing.
- Focus on shoulder stability. Your shoulders help to produce a tremendous amount of force on the rotation of your swing. Make sure you aren’t sacrificing good form and posture in attempts to hit the ball harder.
If you happen to overdo it, the best remedy is ice and rest, Lopez says. Ice restricts blood flow to the pained area to prevent swelling, and just 15-20 minutes can help rejuvenate tired joints and muscles.
Interested in improving your golf game? Learn more about Henry Ford’s GolFit Program, which are a variety of classes designed to teach proper form and injury prevention techniques including dynamic warm-ups that you will be able to use on the course.
Trevor Lopez, AT, ATC, is an athletic trainer who works with students at Cranbrook Kingswood Schools and a GolFit instructor, who has received special training and Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification in the body mechanics and training for golfers.