Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Golf Pain

Why am I in pain when I golf?

Well, this is a complex question that can’t really be answered without understanding golf. Although a traditional sport golf is becoming more popular due to the success of golfers like Tiger Woods. Even though golf can be played for many years as opposed to something like football, it can still put a lot of wear and tear on the body. Professional golfers actually have more low back problems than athletes in any other sport.

The swing of the golfer can be broken down into 5 stages: the take away, the backswing, the downswing, the acceleration and the follow through. Pain in different stages of the swing can often indicate different injuries. Golfers usually experience injury for three main reasons 1) faulty swing mechanics 2) overuse and 3) hitting an object other then the ball.

What are some common golfer injuries?

Research has stated that most injuries in golf tend to occur in the leading shoulder, the elbow and the low back. However, the mechanics of golf can affect the whole body. A good golfer needs to incorporate both upper body flexibility and power from their legs in order to be efficient. When one region lacks motion other areas may compensate and cause injury. Adding to this concept, studies have shown that golfers who sustain back injuries tend to have less hip rotation.

A lot can be said about a golfer when observing their finishing position. There are two main finish positions, the “I” position and the “C” position. The “I” position is when the shoulders, torso and hips are aligned, with a neutral spine. In the “C” position the back is extended or bent away from the leading side. The “C” position often means a golfer is not rotating their hips and shoulders together due to bad form or trying to overpower the ball. By ending in this “C” position a golfer puts extra force into the back area that is not needed. Get a friend to videotape your swing to find out which position you fall into.

The shoulder is another area subjected to injury in golf. If an older golfer experiences pain in their lead shoulder during their backswing it may be arthritis. This position can jam the bones of the shoulder together and cause pain in these individuals. If experiencing pain during the follow through of a swing the person may be experiencing what’s called shoulder instability. This means certain muscles around the shoulder are weak and allowing more movement to occur in the shoulder then we would like.

Elbow problems can occur on either the inside or outside of the elbow. When pain occurs on the inside of the elbow, this may be what’s called medial epicondylitis a.k.a “golfers elbow“. Most commonly “golfers elbow” is an overuse injury. What occurs is muscles in the forearm that attach to the elbow in this location are getting stressed. “Golfers elbow” can also occur due to a golfer hitting their club against the ground during a missed swing or when taking a large divot. Pain on the outside of the elbow is known as lateral epicondylitis a.k.a “tennis elbow”. “Tennis elbow” is often associated with the golfer gripping the club too firmly, trying to maintain a straight lead arm or having weak shoulder muscles leaving the elbow to try and generate most of the power.

So what do I do to avoid injury?

Try implementing a warm up routine in your golf game. Research has shown golfers who have a warm up routine of 10 minutes or more experience less injuries, a better handicap and even a faster club head speed of up to 10m/s. However no one wants to get hurt before even warming up. For golfers who drive a long time to get to the course or morning golfers a few minutes should be taken before attempting to warm up. Three things are to be achieved while warming up. First, it’s important to prepare your body for a long day of swinging. Try to increase your body temperature by performing simple warm up exercises but avoid anything involving bending the back forward. The second thing is to stretch as many muscles as possible. If muscles are stiff and not stretched more injuries can occur. The third goal of a warm up is to do something specific to your sport. The most common warm up routine is air swings. These should be done for 30 seconds while increasing the range of motion and power in each swing.

Another suggestion to avoid injury involves carrying a golf bag. Try getting a golf bag which has two straps allowing forces to be distributed evenly. If you have a one strapped golf bag try alternating shoulders throughout the day. There is even some suggestion this can help train a back to endure forces. Also, put the heaviest clubs in the department closest to your back for this helps distribute the weight to your body. When all else fails get a trolley or a golf cart. The last suggestion is try not to overdo it. Golfers who play 4 or more rounds a week sustain twice as many injuries as other golfers. So remember when on the green it’s ok to play mean, but until then make sure to take ten. For more information on golf injuries or to get assessed and treated for one contact me at the information below Writers note- If you have a question about general health, muscles or joints or even a suggestion for an article comment below with your suggestions.

Dr. Wayne Button BSc DC
Graston Technique Provider
In Balance Chiropractic and Health Center
Orleans, Ontario
2034 St. Joseph Blvd
Tel (613) -837 -8885
Email – dr.button@gmail.com


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