Common Golf Injuries and How to Manage Them
Golf is ranked as one of the top ten participation sports in the world. If you love to play golf, then you're in good company. Approximately 60 million people enjoy this relaxing yet challenging sport that has its roots in ancient times.
Golf Health Benefits
Since golf became such a popular pastime in the U.S., people have delighted in the game. Harvard Medical School claims that golfing is a healthy and safe exercise for the heart, and people of all ages may enjoy the sport with minimal risk to the heart. Even though golfing may not seem as rigorous as some sports such as football or baseball, it still provides plenty of health benefits. From the strengthening of the arms to the core muscles, golfing gives the whole body a moderate, healthy workout. Many people who participate in golfing on a regular basis walk between the holes, which add up to a few miles. A typical golf course is approximately four miles. In addition, people get in extra steps if they have to wander to fetch the ball. All the walking boosts cardiovascular health.
Common Golf Injuries
Although golf is one of the easier sports for the body, it still comes with risk for injury, especially for those who are new to the game, older, or who play very often.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff consists of the muscles and tendons that surround the top of your arm bone (humerus). The humerus bone is rounded at the top and fits neatly into the shoulder socket, which allows it to rotate around. The rotator cuff is what helps you rotate your arm up above your head and then down for the swing when golfing. It also aids in everyday tasks such as reaching for something in a high place.
All muscles and tendons are subject to injury, and the rotator cuff is not an exception. During a game of golf, players swing the club repeatedly and sometimes roughly. This puts the rotator cuff at risk. You may suffer a sudden injury if you swing too hard with bad form or you may get an injury over time from a repetition of the sport.
Caring for a Rotator Cuff Injury
How you care for your rotator cuff injury depends on whether the injury is tendonitis or a tear. Tendonitis occurs due to the repetitive motion of swinging the club up over the shoulder. The constant wear on the tendons can irritate and inflame them causing pain and tenderness. If you suffer a tear, however, it's more serious and painful. You can treat a small tear at home, but a larger tear may require surgery. For minor inflammation and small tears, rest your shoulder and use ice throughout the day to reduce the swelling. Take anti-inflammatory medicine for pain and inflammation. Wear a shoulder support to ensure you do not aggravate your shoulder further.
The wrist is another area that receives quite a bit of action during a game of golf. Players grip the golf club, swing down, and strike the ball. This movement, when performed repeatedly, has the potential to irritate the wrist and lead to wrist tendonitis. Tendons that surround the wrist are either extensors, which are at the back of the wrist, or flexors, which are at the front of the wrist. Most golfers who injure their wrist do so at the time they strike the ball. The vibration of the impact can send a shocking sensation through the wrist if you don't have the proper grip on the club. Other golfers notice wrist tenderness over time, which is indicative of repetitive use injury. The tendons of the wrist become inflamed and you will notice some of these symptoms:
• Stiffness when trying to turn the wrist
• Weakness in the wrist
• Pain in the affected wrist and hand
Caring for a Wrist Injury
After suffering a wrist injury, you want to be sure to provide immediate support for the area. The wrist is used often in everyday activities, so using a stabilizer for the wrist will ensure you don't irritate the condition and make it worse. In addition, take time to apply an ice compact to the wrist if you see swelling or redness, and take anti-inflammatory medicine, as needed.
Golfing puts a lot of stress and strain on the back, especially if you decide to carry your bags. From the turning and twisting to the bending and swinging, the back gets quite a workout. This may not be much of a problem if your back muscles are already in good shape, but if you have weak back or abdomen muscles, then all the action may strain your back. It's also possible to strain a back muscle by swinging too forcefully with the wrong form. If your body is not positioned properly and you twist suddenly when downshifting, you could feel a twinge of pain in your back that may worsen with time.
Caring for a Back Injury
Back pain is a common ailment of many Americans. Even poor posture can lead to back pain and strain. Once you've strained your back, it's best to rest from golfing for a few days as the sport may prove too strenuous for your condition. Apply ice or heat to your back and take over the counter pain relievers. Medical professionals recommend engaging in gentle stretches and mild aerobic exercise to keep your back limber. Use a back brace or support to keep your muscles stable while you go about your daily tasks. Even kinesiology tape can provide relief from nagging back pain.
The technical term for golfer's elbow is medial epicondylitis. The humerus bone (upper arm) connects to the forearm right at the elbow. It's right at this part of the elbow where the medial epicondyle and lateral epicondyle meet. Tendons surround this area, providing needed support and making it possible to bend your elbow. However, the tendons near the elbow can become strained or inflamed playing golf.
People who experience damage to the tendons that surround the humerus bone will have either pain on the inside of the elbow (golfer's elbow) or the outside of the elbow (tennis elbow). Pain also radiates to the forearm since the way you bend your wrist toward your palm is what triggers the golfer's elbow. Sometimes it happens at the moment you swing the club, and other times it happens over time.
Caring for a Golfer's Elbow Injury
Begin recovering from your elbow injury right away by using an elbow brace. The built-in gel buttress and constant compression of an elbow support helps alleviate symptoms and allows you to continue with everyday activities. If your pain is significant, take a pain reliever, and ice the area as time permits.
Golf Injury Prevention
Take these first steps to heal if you become injured while playing golf and you should be back on the greens again in a short time. Most golfing injuries will heal with at-home remedies. However, if you are in severe pain, cannot move the affected area, or your condition doesn't improve in several days, you should consult a physician. You may be able to prevent most golf injuries from occurring in the first place. Follow these tips to be proactive about golfing injuries:
- Strengthen your muscles regularly with calisthenics or weight-bearing exercises
- Use proper form when playing the game.
- Wear good-fitting shoes
- Warm up and cool down before and after golfing.
- Practice a stretching routine so the muscles don't get tight.
- Wear protective aids to support and stabilize your muscles.
With the proper care, you can heal from a golfing injury in a short amount of time. By being proactive and wearing protective gear, you can enjoy your golfing game without any mishaps. Delight in the game you love so much without worrying about injuring yourself.
At Mueller Sports Medicine, our goal is to help sports enthusiasts stay in the game or get back in the game as soon as possible. We understand your passion for sports. Being out of the game because of an injury is disappointing. Thanks to our wide selection of products, you can protect yourself from injury as well as begin the journey to healing if you have been injured.
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