There are many ways to injure yourself playing golf and golf may cause any underlying physical problems to become painful. I ought to know as I have had a few over the years.
Firstly, here are a few scenarios to avoid as these actions will cause problems if you keep repeating them.
- Awkward lifting of golf bag and buggy in and out of the boot of your car. If you can get help to lift them in the night before that would halve the number of lifts for you. Buy a lightweight bag and don’t carry excess contents such as too many balls, or wet weather gear on dry days. Enquire about storing your bag at the golf club, very handy if you play multiple times per week. If you have to lift your own gear, don’t rush, don’t twist and be “square on” over the lift.
- Hitting too many practice balls, will rip you apart. Also standing bent over your putter, the shortest club in your bag, is a common cause of headache and upper back pain.
- Raking bunkers with one hand and holding your club in the other, is a common cause of tennis elbow or golfers elbow. Put your club down, use two hands on the rake and remember to pick up your club afterwards.
- Pulling the classic 2 wheeled club/hire golf buggy whilst walking will put a twist motion through your trunk and asymetrically overload your spine. Push your buggy and use a 3 wheeled buggy if possible. Just being to weak and not strong enough in your core and arms and legs will be the root problem for general fatigue and achy back, legs and neck after golf. Do some strengthening exercises. See my other posts on strength and conditioning. Doing exercises such as planks and squats will be the answer.
- Get any problem you currently have fixed. If you have a little arthritis in your hips or knees or hand go to a sports physiotherapist for assessment, treatment and a plan to prevent these issues becoming a bigger problem. Imagine travelling on a golf trip, expecting to play many times over the week with your friends and suddenly waking after a few days of golf unable to walk or swing because of your little problem is suddenly causing you to be lame and to sore to play.
- Recovery, very important if you are playing on consecutive days. My tips are easily implemented and simple. 1) Limit Alcohol 2) Eat enough 3) Alternate one minute hot, one minute cold in the shower five times for each temperature 4) Get enough sleep 5) Continue a mini strength routine (you should be doing one) 6) Massage or foam roller 7) Use a relaxation App you may have on your phone. http://www.peacefulkids.com.au/meditations.html
- Golf Lessons are a great way to address any awkward biomechanics that might be going on with your body posture over the ball or your golf swing. Your golf pro will help you develop an efficient well-timed flowing swing. This is the best way to avoid low back pain rather than cure it.
- Equipment. Get your pro to check your clubs. Golf clubs are improving each year and your pro will be aware of any new products that may help you. You might show him your clubs and he may be shocked at how heavy they are, or your grips may be old and worn causing you to grip too tight to compensate. (classic cause of golfer elbow). Don’t be afraid to invest in appropriate equipment to prevent future injuries.
- Listen to your body. Do something most days to improve your strength, sort out any stiffness, pain or weakness. Have lessons, practice sensibly with variation. Don’t burn the candle at both ends. Enjoy your golf. Don’t get down on yourself if you have an injury. There is a future beyond injury with diagnosis and treatment.
Here is a hypothetical case study for a golfer we will call Sally.
Sally is 47 years old, loves golf – practices once a week and plays twice a week. Sally has pain up the right side of her body which is intermittent but annoys her during golf and is worse at night. It often wakes her and she relies on pain killers, anti-inflammatories and occasional sleeping tablets. Sally does Pilates goes to gym and doesn’t feel weak. First stop was her G.P. who did blood tests to check for inflammatory conditions and a spinal MRI, all clear, still in pain. Sally goes to many other doctors checking all parts of her anatomy. Still in pain. Sally now has chronic pain and is clearly frustrated. Then Sally has a hip x/ray and MRI and receives a diagnosis of active hip arthritis. Devastated ? No ! Happy ? Yes ! – to have received a diagnosis. A cortisone injection into her hip-joint and an electric buggy are recommended to settle symptoms and reduce the load of pushing and Sally is back out there ready to go. The take home message is be persistent, never give up, do whatever it takes, be resilient and get back out on course.
Happy Sally 🙂 xx