Over the last few months in this column you’ve read about the injuries that are common in sports like football, running, cycling and cricket and tennis. And just about every sport has its injury nemeses. In football it’s the hamstring, tennis it’s an elbow, runners suffer ankle sprains and in cycling, it’s often a knee band issue that will keep them out of the saddle.
But how about taking a seemingly effortless stroll on the grass and hitting a few balls along the way? Injuries in golf are rife. But the problem with golf is that most of the people who play it, seem to put up with injuries and just get on with it. Most of them never wanting to accept that their injuries are a direct consequence of the sport that they love.
And because injuries to their Achilles, back and elbow make up the majority of the problems you’re likely to suffer from, the problem being that they are often so common, and can often cause more aches, pains and stiffness than excruciating pain, that people tend to play on. That and a tendency to attribute the cause of the injury to something, anything, other than the actual golf. That is of course, until the inevitable happens and they’re forced to stop.
Here are the stats: On average, 36% of injuries that a recreational golfer will suffer from is likely to be a back problem. 32% are likely to be golfers elbow and the rest made up of Achilles, ankle and wrist and shoulder problems.
So how come so many back injuries? Well let’s think about your golf swing. The very fact that it’s taken you years to perfect tells you that’s it’s a pretty unnatural thing to be doing. Your spine isn’t designed to twist. And with all the will in the world, having the best technique possible, using the latest technology to ensure a near perfect swing, your still repetitively twisting your spine. And that’s something that your spine is not designed to do. And with that in mind, it’s more likely that any damage that you’re likely to do to your spine will happen when you’re practicing at the driving range. Think of how many rotations your spine will have to go through in a few hours hitting?
Elbow pain. It’s the reverse effect to the tennis elbow I wrote about during Wimbledon recently. It’s a sharp pain on the inside of your elbow when you grip the club. The tighter you grip it the more the pain comes on. It’s basically an over use type injury where the tendons in your wrist and elbow are under way to much tension. Again, these injuries are more likely to happen as the result of excessive and constantly gripping such as when your on the driving range.
Achilles problems are super common in the 40-50 age group. And they’re even more likely to happen if your walking on uneven surfaces all of the time. Think about that last round of golf you played, the ups and downs you experience walking around the course can be just as much as the ones you experience in your technique when hitting that shot. That and the actual force you place your Achilles under on the upward motion of the swing. That point where you’ve hit the ball and propel through with your body, can seriously stress the Achilles. Again, more likely to be an over use problem caused on the driving range.
Surprisingly, shoulder injuries account for only about 10% of all golf injuries. And the ones that I usually see in a physio clinic, they’re often through damage to the tendons at the front of the shoulder. Tendons are very small and easy to damage if they are used too much too soon.
To prevent back problems it’s important for you to be doing exercises to strengthen your core muscles at your back. Visit www.paulgoughphysio.com/back-pain and get exercises from there perfect for this. The stronger your spinal muscles are the less likely you are to suffer muscle spasms, joint problems or disc issues at your back.
And pay attention to the over use injuries at your elbow, shoulder and Achilles. If your practicing really hard in the sun at the minute or gripped by Open fever, and your body gives off more aches than usual, using ice is a great way to reduce the potential build of inflammation that usually causes a problem to become so much, that you have to stop.