It comes as no surprise that golf is one of the most popular sports in Australia, our love of the outdoors coupled with our big, open, unpolluted spaces means we’re in a perfectly primed position to boast more than 1500 golf courses across the country. And these courses aren’t just pretty landscape features lying empty for our viewing pleasure, there’s an estimated 1.3million players traipsing over those greens every year!
Now, we can’t comment on the rules of the game - we’ll leave that to the clubs, coaches and players; but we do know a bit about bodies, in particular the bodies of sports people, their common injuries, the rehabilitation of those injuries and the setting of maintenance plans to prevent those injuries and strains from reoccurring. We understand that there may be many golfers eager to get back to the game after the hottest months of summer have kept them off the courses (although there are some folk who play in 40 degrees- and we RESPECT them!). To that end let’s run through some of the most common golf related injuries we see in our clinic and what can be done about them.
For orientation purposes let’s assume the position of a right-handed golfer, where the left side is forward - also known as the 'leading' side, the side on which most injuries present.
We commonly see the following issues:
Lower back pain, while this is more evident in older men we do also see it in some younger men. Particularly those who are specialising in the sport from a young age and may be at risk of stress fractures.
Wrist pain - this is more common in golf pro's (clocking lots of hrs++) and the ladies. Most often wrist pain presents on the lead side.
Elbow pain - also more common on the lead side, “golfer’s elbow” usually occurs on the inside edge of the elbow whereas “tennis elbow” usually occurs on the outside edge of the elbow.
Generally speaking there are a few technique related errors that lead to these types of injuries:
Primarily a lack of rotation (being able to twist freely side to side) at both the THORACIC (the middle section of the back) and the HIP joints, specifically a lack of INTERNAL rotation at the hip.
If there is a lack of rotation from either of these joints the body will compensate to hit the ball - leading to unwanted movements in other parts of the body (e.g. lower back, wrist).
The cue (albeit outdated) to ‘keep your head down’ during the back swing can also result in neck pain. Even though it is acceptable to allow the head to move to follow the direction body some habits just die hard.
What can a Physio do to help get you back in the swing of things?
By assessing to see just how much thoracic rotation, and hip internal and external rotation you have, if there is a limitation in either or both areas a physio will teach you mobility exercises to improve this.
By assessing if you have a stable base which ensures you have both effective force and efficiency with your swing. This assessment looks at your ability to squat and hinge at the hip as well as your stability and control in that position.
By assessing if there is a lack of strength coming from further up the chain (especially the shoulder girdle).
Whilst we absolutely acknowledge perfecting your golf swing lies more within the expertise of your coach, a Physiotherapist can help get to the bottom of WHY you have pain and whether it is a lack of mobility or strength leading to this. On that note, we have a number of avid golfers that visit us regularly for personalised exercise rehab sessions and treatments for any niggles that may flare up before, during and after the high season. Many of our golfers attest to the fact these sessions not only keep them in tip top condition for their best game; but help them recover quicker from any injuries they may have sustained while aiming for that elusive condor.
See pics below of our Physios during their professional development workshop and link up to the exercise videos we recently uploaded on Facebook and Instagram - "like" us there and try them out for yourself!