From wrist injuries to non-specific low back pain, physiotherapy helps with a host of common golf injuries. Read our expert view below.
A reported 60 million people of all ages play golf across the world and the health benefits have been widely reported. For example an 18 hole round amounts to 6-8 km of walking, requiring over 8,000-12,000 steps.
Golf actually is a very demanding sport and requires strength, endurance, flexibility and athletic ability to perform a movement that produces some of the fastest club head and ball speeds of any sport. The effect of repeated large forces on the body can lead to many different types of injuries, which are often specific to certain areas and sides of the body in golfers.
Researcher have identified the types and likelihood of golf injuries concluding that the main areas of the body prone to injury are the lower back, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hips.
Wrist injuries – Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) injury
The ECU is a skeletal muscle whose function is to extend and adduct the wrist, during the golf swing it becomes highly prone to injury. Imagine a large amount force required to back-swing and down-swing to hit and lift the ball; trauma. The wrist undergoes rapid increase in loading, continued excessive loading and technique faults.
Lower back injuries – Non-specific low back pain (NSLBP)
Lower back injuries account for up to 30% of all golfing injuries e.g. Tiger Woods, with poor technique and lack of flexibility in the mid spine and hips possible causes. Golfers present with aching and discomfort on moving into certain positions during golf. However, the soreness and stiffness that golfers often present with is called ‘non specific’ as it is not usually clear which structure is causing the problem/pain. (see Serratus posterior inferior)
Elbow injuries – Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
Tennis elbow is common in golfers, where the pain is situated on the outside of the elbow region, rather than ‘golfer’s elbow’ which affects the inside. In general the tendons can show signs of inflammation but also angiofibroblastic degeneration, collagen disarray and hypoxic tendon degeneration. The cause is often due to a rapid increase in loading and/or continued excessive loading in practice or technique.
Shoulder injury – Rotator cuff injury
The rotator cuff is a name for a group of 4 muscles in the shoulder that are involved in movement, stabilization and control of the shoulder joint. In golf there are two main causes of injury to the shoulder i.e. acute trauma and degeneration. The amount of stress needed to cause an injury to the rotator cuff tendon will often depend on factors such as the underlying condition of the tendon prior to the stress elicited on the tissue, general fitness and repetition. Tears can occur from injuries such sudden lifting or rapid movement of the arm in the golf swing or deceleration of the club head suddenly.