Lower your golf score - and your pain! | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Lower your golf score – and your pain!

June 18, 2012

With summer in full gear and the U.S. Open at hand, many people are taking days and weekends off to play a round of two of golf. However, most people don’t realize what a round of golf does to the body. Think about the dynamics of a golf swing: a concentrated back swing followed by a slight pause and an extremely forceful downswing at the ball. It’s similar in the sense of a hockey player performing a slap shot. However, this maneuver is performed 2-4 times a hole, for 18 holes. This could mean stressing the body’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments 50, 60; maybe even as many as 80 times a round. The following includes some most common injuries seen on a golf course and ways to prevent the development of them.

Golfer’s Elbow:

Also known as medial epicondylitis, Golfer’s elbow happens when the muscles and tendons on the bottom of the forearms near the inside of the elbow are overused and become inflamed. The repetition of grabbing a club tightly and excessively can cause the tendons and muscles to become overused. Bending the wrist or gripping an object can cause pain at the inside part of the elbow and can even cause a loss in strength. Physical therapy is a great way to help treat golfer’s elbow as physical therapists can provide treatment that includes modalities (ice, ultrasound, E-stim) as well as manual therapy in order to help tendons heal faster and give you specific exercises that will strengthen and prevent this injury as much as possible.

Medial epicondylitis is pain on the inside of the elbow, commonly called golfer’s elbow.

Groin Strain:

The golf swing is an entire synchronized body movement in which the feet stay in contact with the ground at all times. Because the feet are planted, the adductor muscle group, which stretch from the groin along the inside of the leg to your knee, is meant
to stabilize the leg as you rock back and then forward. However, sometimes your feet are planted too far apart or you have a swing that is quick and jerking can put an excessive force to these muscles and cause a groin pull and give the sensation of a quick tightening or a sharp pulling around the groin. Depending on the force, the groin may develop micro tears in the tendons which cause pain and swelling to the area. In these cases, physical therapy is a great way to rehab from these injuries and get back to the golf course.  Physical therapy will entail proper instruction on resting, icing, and elevating the leg to help with healing in the short term. Physical therapy can also provide manual therapy techniques to help break any scar tissue, trigger points and allow for more natural healing of the tendons/muscles. They can provide anatomy based exercises and stretches that can lead to a faster and better recovery.

These are the adductor or groin muscles of the hip. Playing golf puts tremendous strain on them as your feet remain stationary the entire time.

 

Back Pain:

Back pain from golf can come from a variety of different sources. The game of golf involves a lot of bending over to pick up balls, check lies, etc. Most times people perform a “golfer’s lift” in which they keep one leg straight and bend over on that leg
to pick up their ball. However, this type of repetitive bending can cause an excessive strain on muscles, ligaments, and discs in the back, especially through 18 holes. Physical therapy is a great way to learn proper lifting techniques to treat prevent this back pain as well as strengthen the core, legs, and overall body in order to have the strength and endurance to get through rounds of golf without excess stress demonstrated by poor body mechanics.

Hopefully most of you reading this haven’t developed any of these conditions, except now you’re thinking: “I may be on that track, so what do I do?” Here’s a short list of things you can do before, during, and after your round that can save you from both minor and serious injuries.

Stretch:

Stretching is a great way to prevent muscle/tendon related injuries. Stretching helps maintain a muscle’s elasticity, or ability to stretch, like a rubber band. The more your muscles can stretch the better than can handle forces placed at them at great angles.
Stretching also helps provide increased blood flow to muscles and tendons which
allows your muscles to have to have enough nutrients from the blood to work
properly during exercise.

Warm-up with Practice Swings:

Think about your muscles as if they were Play-Doh. When you first open Play-Doh and
try to play with it it rips apart easily. However, when you rub the warmth of your hands into it it becomes more malleable, meaning it can stretch and becomes looser. The same thing happens when you warm up before exercise. The increased blood flow allows muscles/tendons to slowly loosen up in order to prevent injuries. So take to the range before you play a round and begin with your lower clubs that call for a slower pace shot.

Limit your swings:

Face it; by the end of a round of golf you’re exhausted. Here’s one major reason why. Think about it long and hard how many practice swings you take a round along with
your actual swings. The answer: it’s a lot. While gentle practice swings are good in the beginning of the game, monitor how many swings you take before each hole. For many people it could be around 200 to maybe even 300 swings. Naturally, your body will start to get tired and will start to compensate during your swing. This puts your body at high risk for injuries as you lose form and are at higher risk in developing muscle, tendon, and ligament tears. The answer? Limit your swings! Take one, maybe two practice swings before your shot, feel confident, and go for it. Trust me, I bet you hit the ball better too!

Physical therapy: 

Golf is a sport that is able to be played throughout the life time.  Most people
only stop playing the game due to pain that they encounter that makes it difficult for them to continue to play, like back pain.  A physical therapist is able to give you
exercises to eliminate the pain.  They will be able to train you in a proper core workout