How to avoid the most common golfing injuries
Updated: Sep 20, 2020
To mark the start of the 2020 US Open Championship, we take a look at some of the most common golfing injuries and how to avoid them.
The calendar of golfing tournaments has been significantly disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic, as have many other sporting events. The Ryder Cup was due to take place this month, but it has been postponed until 2021. One golfing tournament that is finally going ahead though, is the US Open Championship. Originally scheduled for 18-21 June, it was rescheduled and will take place 17-20 September at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.
Sadly, two-time US Open Champion Brooks Koepka has had to pull out of the tournament due to injury to his left knee. This same injury forced him to miss three months of the last golfing season. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in the Autumn, but it flared up again in October while he was competing in the CJ Cup tournament. Lately he’s been struggling with hip and back pain too, so there’s clearly more going on than just the knee injury.
Jaco Visagie, Clinical Lead and Senior Physiotherapist at our Sun Street clinic, has been conducting research into the injuries of professional golfers as part of his MSc (masters) in exercise physiology and sports physiotherapy. As he discusses in this short video, quite often the pain that golfers experience can be a symptom of other problems, such as a lack of movement range or a lack of strength in other parts of the body. It’s important to have a professional physiological assessment to properly ascertain the root cause of the injury.
Golf is a full-body sport. What looks like a very simple action of swinging a golf club and hitting a ball, involves a complex network of body parts all moving together. If the mechanics of your swing aren’t exactly correct, there’s a risk of injuring multiple body parts, making it all the more difficult to trace the root cause and work out a recovery plan. Incorrect grip can cause problems with tendons in the hands, fingers, wrists and elbows. Golfers can experience neck and back pain, not just from the rotational stress of the swing, but also from hunching over on the putting green. The golfing swing puts particular pressure on the knee, hip and shoulder joints. The knees play a crucial role in keeping the hips aligned at the beginning of a swing and the ligaments in the knee are very susceptible to injury if the muscles around them are weak. The hips and shoulders are very similar joints; rotator cuff tears are common in golfers, and the tendons in the hips can sustain very similar injuries. The feet and ankles are not immune from injury either; this is where the power of the swing is initially produced and each foot moves very differently during the duration of the swing, increasing the risk of sprains and damage to tendons and bones.
All of these golfing injuries can be avoided by warming up properly, strengthening all of the body parts involved, doing stretches that are specifically designed for golfing, using properly fitted equipment (including shoes), making sure you don’t over-practice, and importantly, improving the mechanics of your swing. Try these exercises for improved back mobility, this thoracic spine mobility drill, or this great stretching exercise for your quads and hip flexors. Theraband exercises are great for strengthening the hips, as demonstrated in this video, and to help prevent injuries to your shoulders and rotator cuff, make sure you do these strengthening exercises regularly.
Don’t forget, we can tailor a strength and conditioning programme to get you started through one of our Biokinetic packages.
Call us on 0203 893 5100 or book an appointment online.