Mark Twain once said that “golf was a good walk spoiled”, but we in Scotland know better.There are more than 500 golf courses in Scotland, the home of golf, with 68 in the Lothians alone. Golf is a popular sport but sport can, and does, result in injury for some. How can we reduce the chance of being injured at golf?
First, consider the task. What do you ask your body to do when you play a round of golf?
• Walk 3 – 4 miles, on varying slopes
• Take over 100 swings or more with practice swings
• Putt 30-40 times
• Bend down 40-50 times
• Hit the ball, with the driver at up to 100-120 mph
• Carry your clubs or pull / push a trolley
Golf seems like a gentle, innocuous sport but injuries happen and, on average, golfers can lose 5 weeks of playing time per year. In amateurs, most problems are caused by poor technique especially swing mechanics or technical errors at impact of the club with the ball. More than 60% of amateur golfers sustain one or more golf-related injuries over the course of their playing years but, no, a bruised ego does not count as a golf injury!
Many things can go wrong from the onset of addressing the ball to the follow through. The vast majority of golf injures are not usually the result of single trauma or a freak accident. Rather, they tend to occur as a result of tissue damage sustained over time from overuse and poor technique. Most injuries fall into 4 categories:- muscle strains, joint sprains, fractures and tendonitis.
In amateurs the most frequently reported sites of injury in surveys are:-
•low back 27%,
•wrist / hand 15%
Male amateur golfers tend to be more susceptible to lower back problems and the vast majority of injuries are on the LEAD side. That is the left side if you are a right handed player.
Lady golfers tend to suffer a higher percentage of upper limb injuries. The thumb and elbow are the most common sites. “Tennis elbow”, which is described as pain due to tendonitis on the outer aspect of the elbow, is fi ve times more common than “Golfers elbow”, affecting the inner aspect. Both usually occur on the lead side.
We are all used to seeing professional athletes warm up prior to competition. Spending time warming up will help prepare both the body and mind for the challenges of the sport ahead. The aim of a warm up is to raise body temperature and to improve both muscle and joint flexibility prior to sport. This will both improve your performance and reduce the chance of injury. However, 75% of amateur golfers warm up for less than 5 minutes and the rest warm up for less than one minute, if at all. A warm up is recommended for at least 20 minutes prior to golf to help ensure that your body is up to the task.
If you have sustained an injury or would like advice on an appropriate warm up routine why not contact the clinic and ask. It is important to seek help if you are aware of an injury as early intervention helps ensure a full and speedy recovery.
We Scots know that golf is not “a good walk spoiled”. We know that, just like Arnold Palmer said, “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated”. That’s why we love playing it!