The mnemonic PRICE (Prevention, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is a useful word to remember in the management of soft tissue injury.
The best management of all injuries is to prevent them! Prevention has become a major factor in modern day sport especially at elite and professional level. Injury prevention strategies involve good warm-up, effective stretching, correct injury treatment and maintenance of good symmetrical strength and range of movement.
All golfers whether young, old, high handicap or low, should undergo a preventative screening to establish their specific areas of inflexibility, strength and subsequent control of movement. Problems in these areas will lead to poor consistency in the golf swing.
It is important to maintain good flexibility. A regular programme of stretching will ensure that you maintain an optimal range of motion. Good range of motion will ensure the most consistent swing and should lessen your chance of injury. In your adolescent years, the bones rapidly grow and the muscles are stretched. Therefore strong muscles will resist growth and tighten more than weaker ones. Muscles like, the quadriceps, hip flexors and calf muscles all tend to get tight.
You should always stretch after some form of warm-up, especially for more aerobic sports. For golf, this may in fact be as simple as a warm shower or brisk walk combined with hitting a few short irons. Remember that increasing the blood flow to the muscles required for the activity is the basic goal of warm-up. If the conditions are cold, then ensure that the effects of the warm-up are not lost by wearing warm clothing and completing your warm-up as close to the actual stretching and game preparation as possible.
Always move progressively through your bag, that is, start with pitching/chipping and then hit a few balls with each club from pitching wedge through to driver. DON’T just walk on to the first tee and swing away. We all pay later for the silly things we do in our youth. Knowledge is powerful and prevention is better than cure.
Specific areas of concern
The most “at risk” area for the golfer is the low back. If you have a family history of back pain or you know that you are stiff then extra care should be taken with stretching and warming up for your back. If you don’t know whether you are likely to have problem then a preventative screening with a golf trained physiotherapist will isolate your areas of likely problems.