3 Most Common Golf Injuries
I. Elbow Pain – commonly known as “Golfer’s Elbow”
What is it?
Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) causes pain and inflammation in the tendons that connect the forearm to the elbow. The pain centers on the bony bump on the inside of your elbow and may radiate into the forearm.
What causes Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow can be caused by an acute injury or an overuse injury. Most often, golfer’s elbow is the result of an overuse condition where a specific activity performed many times causes a chronic irritation to the tendon. Golf is one common cause of these symptoms, but many other sport and work-related activities can cause the same condition.
How can you treat Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is a problem that may heal with simple treatment. Treatment is rarely surgical, as this condition is well managed with a little rest and proper rehabilitation.
• Lifestyle Modification – Lifestyle modification is important if golfer’s elbow does not resolve or if it recurs. With golfers, often a change in technique a change in equipment, such as a different size grip, can help to resolve the problem.
• Changing Swing Mechanics – Golf clubs should be sized properly, including grip size. Swing mechanics should be evaluated to ensure patients are swinging properly. See a golf pro/instructor for a swing and club evaluation. Usually, the development of golfer’s elbow is a sign there is something wrong with the swing that can be addressed.
• Anti-inflammatory Medications – Anti-inflammatory medications are often used to help control pain and inflammation. The oral forms of these medications are easy to take, and often help control the inflammation as well as manage the pain associated with golfer’s elbow.
• Cortisone Injections – If these conservative measures fail, a steroid (cortisone) injection is a reasonable option. If a person has tried more than two cortisone injections without relief, it is unlikely that additional injections will benefit the patient.
• Stretching & Exercises – Some simple stretches and exercises can also be helpful in controlling the symptoms of golfer’s elbow. These exercises should not cause pain, and if they do the exercises should not be done until the pain resolves. By strengthening the muscles and tendons involved with golfers’ elbow, you can help prevent the problem from returning.
Here are the most common stretches to perform to help alleviate the pain and stretch the muscles involved:
Passive Wrist Flexion/Extensor Stretch
With the elbow straight with palm down, use opposite hand to pull wrist back.
Passive Wrist Extension/Flexor Stretch
With elbow straight and palm up, pull wrist back using the opposite hand
If conservative measures do not help relieve the pain, consider Physical Therapy. We do a technique called Astym ® which specifically helps to heal the soft tissue in the muscle with overuse injuries. You can click here for more information and how it may help you: www.Astym.com
II. Shoulder Pain
What kind of shoulder issues can you have with golf?
The most common shoulder injuries with golf are:
• Labral tears – Tearing and/or fraying of the cartilage ring around the socket of the shoulder joint
• Rotator cuff tears – Tear of one of the 4 muscles (most commonly the supraspinatus) that make up the rotator cuff
• Tendonitis – Inflammation of the supraspinatus muscle tendon
• Impingement – pinching of something between two bones.
What can cause these injuries?
Shoulder injuries can be a combination of overuse and poor form which can cause inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons. Weakness in the rotator cuff muscles as well as poor posture may also attribute to the injuries.
How can you treat shoulder injuries?
The best way to treat shoulder injuries is strengthening, stretching, and posture changes. Below are some of our favorite rotator cuff exercises as well as posture exercises and pec stretches.
ELASTIC BAND SHOULDER EXTERNAL ROTATION (ER)
While holding an elastic band at your side with your elbow bent, start with your hand near your stomach and then pull the band away. Keep your elbow at your side the entire time.
ELASTIC BAND SHOULDER INTERNAL ROTATION (IR)
While holding an elastic band at your side with your elbow bent, start with your hand away from your stomach, then pull the band towards your stomach. Keep your elbow near your side the entire time.
STANDING ROW WITH THERABAND
Anchor the bands in front of you at waist height as shown. Begin with your arms straight in front of you, and pull your elbows next to your body, squeezing your shoulder blades. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
ELASTIC BAND SCAPULAR RETRACTIONS WITH MINI SHOULDER EXTENSIONS
While holding an elastic band with both arms in front of you with your elbows straight, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull the band back. Be sure your shoulders do not raise up.
PEC CORNER STRETCH
Upper arms should be parallel to ground. Don’t hyperextend low back. Shoulder blades should be down back and together. Lean forward to feel a stretch in the pecs. Can move arms up or down to get a different stretch of the pecs
Laying on your side, keep your hips stacked and rotate your upper body so your arm is flat against the bed/floor.
III. Low back pain
Low back is the most common golf injury, not surprisingly.
What can cause the low back pain?
The repetitive action of the golf swing is the number one cause of low back pain in golfers. A ‘Reverse Angle’ swing fault is a common cause of back pain that occurs when the spine deviates from the vertical during the swing.
Numerous structures of the lower back can be affected – the discs, ligaments, muscles or Facet joints – but in golfers, particularly older ones, the discs are most commonly affected. A herniated disc or ‘slipped disc’ refers to a protrusion of gel material from inside the disc. This can cause back pain and / or Sciatica, particularly when bending forwards.
Weakness in the core and hips as well as decrease flexibility of the hamstrings, hip flexors and tight rotation can also cause more strain on the lumbar spine with the repetitive motion of swinging.
How can you treat the low back pain?
Correct any faulty swing you may have. Are you compensating because you are tight or because of weakness? If so, this compensation needs to be address and corrected.
The most beneficial treatment is doing core strength and stability exercises. This can help decrease your pain as well as prevent future injuries. Here are a few core exercises to get you started.
PELVIC TILT – SUPINE
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Next, arch your low back and then flatten it repeatedly. Your pelvis should tilt forward and back during the movement. Move through a comfortable range of motion.
While lying on your back, tighten your lower abdominals, squeeze your buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor/bed as creating a “Bridge” with your body. Hold and then lower yourself and repeat.
Hip Hinge Level 1
Stand holding a rod (or your golf club) in contact with your spine. Try to maintain the same points of contact as you squat down. Your butt should go backwards as you squat down and your knees should flex but SHOULD NOT move forward. Keep your stomach engage to keep your back as flat as you can.
Stretching before and after is also very beneficial. Below are some stretches you can do right at your golf cart warming up.
Standing with one foot on cart. Place club behind back and bend forward on front knee. Lean into front leg and rotate trunk toward same leg. Repeat for other leg.
Standing in backswing position. Hold club at each end. Rotate further into backswing to feel stretch in chest, hip, trunk, and back of shoulder. Repeat for other side.
Standing with one foot on cart, hold club behind your back. Raise arms up behind you as you lean chest toward extended leg. Should feel stretch in hamstring and chest/arms.
References: www.hep2go.com; www.verywellhealth.com; www.physioroom.com