Don't Let Injuries Handicap Your Golf Game

IMAGE Golf seems like a gentle sport. Your body is not jarred or jostled and your legs are not pounding pavement. Though the dangers of golf are not obvious, golfers may be injured and sidelined by pain. Luckily, with a little prevention and good form, most golf injuries are avoidable. You'll want to focus on flexibility, strength, and proper technique to stay in the game.

How Golf Hurts

The list of possible golf injuries is surprisingly extensive. Many result from the stress on the back and shoulders when swinging the club. Other injuries result from improper form and from the repetitive nature of the sport.

The Back

The twisting motion of the golf swing, the movement of the spine, and repeated bending to take putts all contribute to back pain. Golfers are also likely to have muscular imbalances since most of the stress is on one side of your body. Many back problems can be prevented with strong trunk muscles (abdominal muscles and back muscles), which control the twisting mechanism, and good flexibility, which helps prevent overstretching of back muscles. If you want to strengthen your lower back muscles, you may want to try rowing, yoga, or pilates.

The Hips

As you rotate your body, you risk pulled muscles in the hip area. Make sure to stretch your hip muscles well after warming up.

The Shoulder

You engage your shoulder in both the take-away and follow-through of your swing. It is an area that is at risk for strains and sprains. Work on stretching and strengthening the shoulder. Try lateral shoulder raises with dumbbells or rotator cuff exercises (such as internal and external rotations with a dumbbell).

The Elbows

The shock at impact—between the club and the ball or the ground—is largely absorbed by the elbow muscles and tendons. Tendinopathy at the elbow is a risk that increases if your technique is incorrect.

The Wrists

Like tennis players, golfers sometimes suffer from tendonitis of the wrist as a result of repeatedly extending and flexing the joint. And if you miss the ball and hit the ground, the muscles and tendons of your wrist absorb much of that impact, as well.

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