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The Bone & Joint Clinic
Spire South Bank Hospital, Worcester

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Golf Injury Prevention: Get fit for Golf

  • With the new golf season upon us, it’s not just the tour players who should be getting their bodies “fit for golf”. Many club players will soon begin the annual “slog” with their play being inhibited either as a result of injury or just lack of physical (not necessarily technical) ability. Of course physical weakness, inflexibility and or injury will all result in technical deviation from the “perfect swing”.

    Many golf professionals and golfers are recognising the importance of getting fit for golf. In more recent times many players are looking at ways of enhancing their ability by using a golf specific physiotherapist.

    Exercise prescription to improve the body biomechanics of the golf swing in all ages can improve consistency over 18 holes and any work done now will almost certainly prolong your playing career. Many golfers will often at some point in their playing careers complain of either mid or lower back pain, neck and shoulder pain, problems at the elbow, wrist and hand. We need look no further than the mighty Tiger Woods and his problematic knee to highlight injury is not exclusive to the trunk and upper limbs.

    In this article I will highlight some of the common ailments many golfers complain of when they see a specialist and some useful tips on injury prevention. We will also look at individual profiling/ screening in golf and its in-creasing role in ensuring the golfer has the mobility, control and strength to move into the postures required by the player and his/her coach. Finally we will look at general considerations for all of us to remember the next time we head of to the first tee.

  • Common sites of injury

    Epidemiological studies document that back and elbow injuries respectively are the most common complaint in the male amateur golfer. In female amateur golfers, however, the elbow followed by the lower back is reportedly the most likely area of involvement.

    In the male golf professional, lower back and wrist injuries respectively are more frequently seen, whilst wrist injuries, followed by low back injuries are the most common presentation in the female professional golfer. Injuries often relate to overuse, poor conditioning and inflexibility resulting in improper swing mechanics most of which can be prevented by proper training and advice.

    Read more information about common sites of injury

    Injury prevention and management 

    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.

    Good Flexibility

    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.

    Warming up

    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.

    Read more information about injury prevention and management

    Common sense on the golf course

    Always ensure you have plenty to drink both prior to and during games of golf. This especially important on days where the temperature is above 22 degrees or if the competition involves greater than 18 holes in a day or multiple days of competition. Remember that clear urine is the best indicator of adequate hydration. By the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Decrease in performance soon follows.

    It makes good sense to load the body with the correct fuel to ensure that it is able to perform with quality for a number of hours. Ensuring that you eat well prior to teeing off makes good sense. The following foods which provide rapid uptake of the fuel required to provide energy quickly for both before and during a round include potatoes, honey, bread, bagels, sultanas, raisins, watermelon and glucose (jelly babies etc.)

    Always wear sunscreen and a hat especially in the competitive environment. The effects of heat stress are gradual but significant even on the repeated swinging of the golf club. More importantly it will effect concentration and therefore your competitiveness.

    Tightness in calves or shins and abnormal shoe wearing are indicative of problems in the function- ing of the foot as it adapts to the ground. Quality footwear should be a priority and a podiatry consultation is worth considering, and is now available through the Spire South Bank, Bone & Joint Clinic.

    Read more information about common sense on the golf course


Back In The Swing 

Written by Mr Nadim Aslam
Knee and Sports Medicine Consultant

Read Mr Aslam's profile


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