Golf is one of the most popular sports and favorite pastimes in the United States. The sport requires a lot of attention to detail, time, effort, and skill which makes it a fun activity for millions across the world. Even the best golfers in the world need to spend extra time honing their craft and healing from injuries that can arise at a moment’s notice.
Golf requires a lot of repetitive motions and strain to be placed on your body as you swing a club at peak speeds to try and carry the ball as far as you possibly can or craft the perfect spin to get an ideal next shot. These repetitive motions, torque during the swing, and stress can create nagging injuries, discomfort, or even sideline you for weeks if you’re not careful when on the golf course or at the driving range.
According to research done by the CDC for the National Health Statistics Reports which grouped most sports by category to find sports and recreation-related injuries, golf is one of the top 6 sporting activities which can lead to an injury. Golfing, when grouped with other recreational sports in the report, found that golf injuries can occur 1.8 times for every 1,000 individuals.
Golf injuries often have many contributing factors which can include poor mechanics, repetitive motions, acute stress, or chronic issues that become extensive issues if not treated properly. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for those individuals who have golf injuries. Take a look at some of the most common golf injuries.
9 Most Common Golf Injuries
Heat Exhaustion and Sunburn
Golfing is most often done during the warmer months of the year which is why special attention needs to be paid to the many signs or symptoms of heat and sun-related concerns which can include heat exhaustion, dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn. The average game of golf typically takes around 4 hours to complete an entire round. Even if you’re using a cart, you could still be in the hot sun for hours on end which is why it’s important to drink adequate amounts of water, wear breathable clothing to alleviate some heat, and always wear sunscreen.
In addition, it can be a great idea to take advantage of the shady parts of the course when you need to so you can give yourself a brief breather from the scorching sun on a warm day during your round. If you need to take a break during the middle of your round, take a break and reset your mind so you can get prepared for your next shot on the course. You can also stop your round short as well and reschedule for a later date when the weather is a bit more forgiving.
Hips and your lower body play a key role in your ability to walk the course and get enough force behind your club as you perform a full swing and follow-through after making contact. Hip injuries can occur as you twist and pivot or as you walk the course. In addition, uneven surfaces like sand traps can throw off your natural rotation when swinging to hit the ball and may lead to injury.
Like many other golfing injuries on our list of the most common golf injuries, hip injuries can also stem from the buildup of stress and strain over time. It’s important to build enough flexibility in your hips and adequately warm-up before your next golf outing to make sure that you’re able to reduce the likelihood of an injury.
Golfer’s elbow, as it’s appropriately named, is when there is pain or discomfort where the tendons of the forearm attach to the bump on the inside of your elbow. Golfer’s elbow can be caused when there is damage or repetitive stress placed on the muscles or tendons of your forearm which help to control your fingers and wrist. Other sports that commonly suffer from Golfer’s elbow include tennis players or other racquet-like activities. Golfer’s elbow can make swinging and holding a club rather difficult, which can ultimately impact your ability to shoot under par on your next round of golf.
The next common golf injury which can significantly impact your round are wrist injuries. Keeping a straight clubface throughout the full motion of the swing is essential in helping you craft the perfect shot to land on the green or avoid those water hazards. As you swing and make contact with the ball, a lot of force is carried through the club and to your wrists and forearms. This repetitive motion and stress may cause injury over time.
Arthritis can slow you down, especially when you’re getting ready to head out to the range to hit a round of golf. Individuals who currently deal with one of the many different types of arthritis can have a flare-up on the golf course either by tweaking something during a particular swing or by repetitive behavior over a period of time.
Neck injuries are common for individuals who are learning the sport for the first time or are trying to get back into the swing of things. Neck injuries on the golf course can occur as you twist your body to follow through on a swing or can tighten up over the duration of a strenuous round.
Knee pain and knee injuries can have a significant impact on your ability to play golf and shoot a low score. During a traditional golf swing, tremendous amounts of pressure and force are applied to our lower body to stabilize and get enough rotation to make the most of a golf swing. Stance can play a key role in your ability to craft a shot and knee injuries can occur from shifting grounds as you twist to make a shot, uneven surfaces like the rough or bunkers, or simply walking the course for several hours.
Back pain and back injuries impact millions of Americans every year, and golfers are no exception to developing back issues throughout their playing days. Golf requires us to ask a lot from our backs, including when we’re lining up shots, leaning over to evaluate greens, carrying clubs to form different shots, and taking swings. Repeated stress and strain from all the motions throughout the day when playing golf may cause a number of different injuries.
As you go throughout your round, it’s important to keep your back flexible and adequately stretch before taking shots to ensure that it doesn’t get too tight if the pace of play is slow.
Hand or Finger Injury
The next common golf injury includes hands and fingers. In the same way that a golfer’s wrists and forearms take a lot of force, the same can be said for hands and fingers when swinging and making contact with the ball. In addition, the way in which one holds the club can have an impact on the likelihood for an injury. Some golf outfitters are even going so far as to develop new state-of-the-art gloves and assistive devices that can help reduce the likelihood of an injury and ensure proper grip on the club when striking the ball.
Treat Golf Injuries with Physical Therapy
Golf is one of the most popular sports across the country and a recent golf injury doesn’t need to slow you down. Our licensed and trained physical therapists are movement experts who can help you recover from an injury and get back out for your next round of golf.
- Sheu, Yahtyng, et al. “Sports- and Recreation-Related Injury Episodes in the United States, 2011-2014.” Center for Disease Control, National Health Statistics Reports, 18 Nov. 2016, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr099.pdf.
- Beall, Joel. “According to Report, Golf Is More Dangerous than Rugby.” Golf Digest, GolfDigest, 1 Feb. 2018, https://www.golfdigest.com/story/according-to-report-golf-is-more-dangerous-than-rugby#:~:text=A%202016%20paper%20from%20the,injuries%20for%20every%201%2C000%20persons.
- Fortuna, Matthew. “How Long Does It Take to Golf 18 Holes? Variables to Consider.” Golflink.com, GolfLink, 26 Nov. 2020, https://www.golflink.com/facts_4799_how-long-does-golf-holes.html.
- “Golfer’s Elbow.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Oct. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/golfers-elbow/symptoms-causes/syc-20372868.
- “Chronic Back Pain.” Health Policy Institute, 13 Feb. 2019, https://hpi.georgetown.edu/backpain/#:~:text=Some%2016%20million%20adults%20%E2%80%94%208,over%20%2412%20billion%20per%20year.