The 3 Most Common Golf Injuries & How To Prevent Them

Jun 13, 2023
common golf injuries

When people think of golf, they generally think of it as a leisurely activity to be done socially on weekends. Few appreciate the incredible athleticism that is involved in this highly competitive sport, and even fewer realize how easy it can be to get injured while playing it. In this article we will talk about some of the most common golf injuries and how to prevent them from happening.

What Makes Golfers Prone to Injury?

When we start to dissect the primary movement in golf, the swing, and the sport as a whole, it becomes less and less surprising that golfers actually get injured quite often. In fact, a study from the CDC found that golf is technically more dangerous than team sports like rugby in terms of injury prevalence (1.8 per 1000 people to 1.5 per 1000 people, respectively).

Let’s take a look at some of the determining factors that contribute to almost half of all amateur golfers sustaining an injury each year.

Asymmetry

Golf is an asymmetrical sport, meaning there is a disparity in the amount of overuse and underuse of particular muscles. This is because there is, in a very broad sense, only one movement in golf, and that’s rotation. Now of course, there is putting, chipping, bank shots, etc. Not everything is a full swing. But they are all rotational variants, and all in the same direction. 

Explosiveness

Golf is largely sedentary. You’re never out of breath. You’re never running. You’re not lifting heavy weights. However, there is a stark contrast that takes place at least once every hole. And that is the explosive, near maximum effort rotation you do when driving a ball off the tee. It is the swinging motion, and its repetitiveness over time, that largely contributes to golf injuries.

Mobility

The golf swing takes just about every joint in the body through its full functional capacity. If you are missing that capacity in one or more areas, the force you generate and try to channel into the ball could instead be funneled into, around, above or below that restricted area. Like a car running into a tree. The result can often be strain, tear, or other injury to the tissues involved.

Lack of Conditioning

Along with the other reasons above, people who play golf often lack general strength and conditioning. This might mean their tissues are weak and frail to begin with, so they are already at a high injury risk before they even make their first swing. Everything gets amplified in terms of injury when you’re out of shape from the get go.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Common Golf Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)

We will now move into discussing three of the most commonly injured areas for golfers; lower back, shoulder, and elbow. We’ll briefly touch on why these injuries occur, and then give some helpful tips on how to prevent them from occurring.

Lower Back (Low Back Pain, Herniated Discs, Strains)

This is the most commonly injured area for golfers. Many people in the general populace already deal with low back pain of some sort, and it then gets exacerbated through the game of golf. The low back is a kind of axle point between the upper and lower body during a golf swing, and it sustains violent rotation as one makes impact with the ball, leaving it vulnerable to injury.

Prevention

Developing your core musculature through proper functional training is paramount to the prevention of low back pain. Your deep abdominal and low back muscles, working together with other surrounding tissues in the body, are what supports the internal structures of the low back. Core exercise, combined with shoulder, hip, and spinal mobility training are the keys to success.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Shoulder (Rotator Cuff Injury, Impingement, Labral Tears) 

When there is restriction in the upper spine, the shoulders will overcompensate to try and produce more power in the swing. Being the most mobile joint in the body, the shoulder is already susceptible to injury, muscle imbalance, and mobility restriction. Preparing our shoulders properly before heading out on course will allow them to stretch and move safely while golfing.

Prevention

The shoulder first needs to have its mobility restored so it can move freely in all directions without restriction. Then, we need to build strength and stability around the entire joint by challenging it at different angles and with varying loads and exercises. This means pressing and pulling of all types; overhead, to the side, front, back, with and without rotation, etc.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Elbow (Golfer’s Elbow, Tennis Elbow, Tendinitis)

Golfer’s elbow (overuse of the wrist flexors) is generally experienced as pain on the inside, bony part of the elbow. It typically affects the lead arm more (i.e. right arm of a right handed golfer). Golfers can also get tennis elbow (overuse of the wrist extensors), which is felt more on the outside, bony part of the elbow. Both these types of tendinitis are common, but preventable.

Prevention

It’s incredibly important for golfers to maintain mobility in and around the wrist, elbow, and shoulder to help remediate these types of tendinitis. Also, build and maintain strength in the hands, forearms, biceps, and triceps to help support the elbow while you’re golfing. This is done through pushing and pulling exercises; bench press, deadlifts, pullups, and pushups, for example.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Prevent Injury with Dynamic Golfers

Not sure where to start when it comes to making these kinds of changes? Dynamic Golfers has done all the technical work for you. By following our professionally designed programming, you can start building the athletic body of your dreams. One that performs well, feels good, and can golf pain-free for years to come. Try us out for 7-days FREE by clicking here.

Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

How to Create the Perfect Golf Backswing

Mar 29, 2024

3 Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises for Golfers

Mar 18, 2024

Golf for Beginners: Tips on How to Get Started

Mar 04, 2024

6 Dynamic Golf Stretches for your On the Course Warm Up

Feb 26, 2024