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Tips to Avoid Common Golf Injuries

Shoulder injuries are common among golfers.

We’ve all read articles about our favorite PGA or LPGA Tour professionals being side-lined with golf injuries. To non-golfers, they don’t understand how a non-contact sport like golf can produce short-term or even long-term injuries. However, if you’ve been on the pain-reliever, ice bag, hot pack or even surgical side of a golf injury, you know it’s not fun. To avoid golf injuries, you need to warm-up properly before practicing and playing with stretches and conditioning programs specifically designed for golf.

EWGA member and fellow LPGA Professional Karen Palacios-Jansen has created a perfect blend of fitness exercises designed to help your golf game, called Cardiogolf. Designed to trim your score and shape your swing, Cardiogolf is a way for golfers to improve their swing mechanics and fitness levels at the same time. You can work on these exercises in your home, at the gym or outside before you play. Checkout Karen’s website for more information.

In her years of teaching and playing, Karen has seen many common golf injuries that could have been prevented. Karen recently shared in Golf Fitness Magazine ways to avoid some of the most common golf injuries and how to avoid them.

  1. Back pain - While many Americans (75 to 85 percent) experience some type of back pain in their lifetime, it’s no surprise that back pain is the most common injury among golfers. When you think of the twisting, swinging, rotating, etc. that goes into the golf swing multiple times over a four or five hour round, it’s easy to see how golfers can have back pain that leads to serious injury. Much has been written lately about Tiger Woods and Freddy Couples regarding their back injuries. One of the top ways a golfer injures his/her back is taking the golf bag out of the trunk of the car – long before even getting to the first tee. Work with your physician or fitness expert to learn exercises that are designed to stretch and strengthen your back.
  2. Shoulder/Rotator Cuff - The four muscles located in your shoulders are often irritated when the muscles swell and pinch the space between the arm and shoulder bones (rotator cuff impingement). Worse than impingement, some people experience an actual tear of the tendons and muscles in the shoulder area, that are not only painful, but often times require surgical repair. Again, look for exercises designed to strengthen shoulder and back muscles.
  3. Golf/Tennis Elbow – Tendinitis in the elbow is known as Golf Elbow (irritation and inflammation of the inner elbow tendon) or Tennis Elbow (irritation and inflammation of the outer elbow tendon). Ironically, most golfers suffer from Tennis Elbow with the pain on the outer tendon of the elbow due to overuse of the tendons involved. This is usually treated with rest to allow the elbow to heal and ice to help in the inflammation. Look for exercises that will help strengthen the muscles and tendons as well as practicing proper swing basics that will help prevent the strain on your elbows.
  4. Wrist Tendonitis or Carpel Tunnel – The wrists are also susceptible to golf injuries due to the speed of the golf swing, the quick change of direction at the top of the backswing and connecting with the ball at impact. Some wrist injuries have resulted from taking swings from poor turf (rocks or tree roots) and force or sudden stopping when hitting rocks or roots. Include strength exercises for your wrists in your fitness warm-up and stretches.

In addition to these common injuries, also use common sense when playing. Use sunscreen, wear a hat with a visor to shade your face and eyes from the sun. Drink plenty of water and watch for signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Remember to keep feet inside the golf cart (if you ride in a cart). Some golfers have broken ankles from having their feet outside a moving golf cart.

Most golf injuries can be avoided by practicing good swing mechanics and warming up properly. Take time to warm up for golf, make some easy swings rather than over swinging. Off season and in-season fitness programs will help you stretch and strengthen problem areas so you can be in the best condition to enjoy golf.