It’s not physically taxing, but golf can cause its share of injuries. We asked Dr William Choi of the Academy of Chiropractic Clinic to explain the drawbacks of hitting the green, and how to avoid getting into trouble.
The golf swing, together with the hunched putting posture, causes muscle strains, or even muscle sprains. Not only does this cause a huge stress on the back, but it causes leg injuries as well, especially if nerve irritation is present. It is not surprising that back pain is one of the main causes of concern.
Symptoms: Back pain and stiffness, muscle spasms, numbness or weakness in legs (if nerve irritation is present)
It isn’t just one part of the shoulder that is at risk of an injury, and the rotator cuff is the root of many shoulder injuries; recently, though, labral tears (tears in the cartilage) have been more prevalent.
Symptoms: Pain in the shoulder or upper arm, night pain, or pain with overhead activities
Both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are an inflammation, soreness, or pain of the upper arm, near the elbow. However, the difference is that the swelling occurs on the outside for tennis elbow, whereas the latter involves internal swelling. On a positive note, golfer’s elbow is not as common as tennis elbow.
Symptoms: Pain and tenderness on the outer side of the non-dominant elbow (tennis elbow) and the inner side of the dominant elbow (golfer’s elbow)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a stress disorder in the nerves on the hand, which causes paraesthesia, pain, numbness, and other symptoms.
Symptoms: Numbness of fingers (especially at night), and head weakness
Did you realise that the action of shifting forward to complete your golf swing causes the inner side of your knee to absorb a tremendous amount of torque and compression? Knee pains, which include torn meniscus, knee arthritis (osteoarthritis), and kneecap pain (chondromalacia), can eventually lead to the degeneration of the articular cartilage and arthritis.
Symptoms: Pain, clicking, and swelling of the knee
Avoiding Golf Injuries
The biomechanics of the golf swing and the spine must maintain consistent plane angles. If these plane angles are to change at any time during the swing, the results are inconsistent golf ball compression and abnormal spinal disc stress.
Two drills to build a fundamentally sound golf swing:
Water Bottle Drill
Place your bottle about a foot, to a foot and a half, behind your ball, a little to the inside. As you engage your backswing, some might have the tendency to hit or tap the bottle. The purpose of this drill is to ensure that your club goes outwards, to give you the sensation that the club is in front of your body.
Place a towel underneath your non-dominant arm, or if you have a large enough towel, stretch it so that it is underneath both arms. While engaging in this drill, the towel should be under your arms at all times. As you make a waist high backswing to forward swing, keep your towel in place. The Towel Drill is not designed to help you hit the ball far, but to ensure that your non-dominant arm remains straight, and that you rotate your body as the club makes contact with the ball.
If you’re suffering from muscular skeletal injuries that are preventing you from enjoying a game of golf, seek out help. It would be wise to take preventive measures; as the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”.