Golf Injuries

Tips On Avoiding Golf Injuries
by EWGA member, Frances Whittelsey
Courtsey of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons   



Don't Let Injuries Knock You Off the Course!

Playing golf has a special place in my life, and the last thing I want is to have injuries keep me off the course--and away from my great friends in EWGA! But it can easily happen, unless we all remember this is a sport that can definitely cause injuries if we're not careful. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 109,000 golf-related injuries treated in doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency rooms in 2003, incurring a total cost of more than 2 billion dollars. But if we follow the advice of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), most of these injuries can be prevented.


Overuse syndrome, as well as tendinitis, bursitis, strains and sprains can put a halt to a golfer’s game. The most common injured areas include the elbow, spine, knee, hip and wrist. And the risks apply to people of all ages. In fact, nearly one-quarter of golf-related injuries reported in 2003 occurred in children under the age of 19.


Here are the latest tips on avoiding golf injuries, courtesy of the orthopedic surgeons:


• Take golf lessons and begin participating in the sport gradually. If you haven't played for a while, get back into the game slowly, starting with a single bucket of balls at a driving range, for example.


• Choose the correct golf shoes: ones with short cleats are the best.


• Warm up and stretch before golfing. Improving your flexibility helps your muscles accommodate to all sorts of demands.


• Incorporate strength training exercises into your warm up routine. Visit http://orthoinfo.aaos.org for golf-related strength training exercises.


• Do not hunch over the ball too much, as it may predispose you to neck strain and rotator cuff tendinitis.


• Avoid golfer’s elbow – caused by a strain of the muscles in the inside of the forearm – by not over-emphasizing your wrists when swinging. It is important to build your forearm muscles by completing the exercises below:


• Squeeze a tennis ball for five minutes at a time.


• Perform wrist curls using a lightweight dumbbell. Lower the weight to the end of your fingers, then curl the weight back into your palm, followed by curling up your wrist to lift the weight an inch or two higher. Perform 10 repetitions with one arm, then repeat with the other arm.


• Do reverse wrist curls with a lightweight dumbbell. Place your hands in front of you, palm side down. Using your wrist, lift the weight up and down. Hold the arm that you are exercising above your elbow with your other hand in order to limit the motion to your forearm. Perform 10 repetitions with one arm, then repeat with the other arm.


• Help minimize low back injuries – often caused by a poor swing – by performing these simple exercises to help strengthen lower back muscles:


• Rowing: Firmly tie the ends of rubber tubing. Place it around an object that is shoulder height (like a door hinge). Standing with your arms straight out in front of you, grasp the tubing and slowly pull it toward your chest. Release slowly. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions, at least three times a week.


• Pull-downs: With the rubber tubing still around the door hinge, kneel and hold the tubing over your head. Pull down slowly toward your chest, bending your elbows as you lower your arms. Raise the tubing slowly over your head. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions, at least three times a week.


• Keep your pelvis as level as possible throughout the swing.


• Be alert for dehydration and heat exhaustion.


• Heed caution when driving a golf cart, reducing speed for pedestrians, inclines and weather conditions. Keep hands, legs, feet and arms inside the confines of the golf cart when it is moving.


You can find additional safety tips and injury prevention information on golf and other sports in the Prevent Injuries America!® Program section of the Academy's web site, www.aaos.org or www.orthoinfo.org, or call the Academy’s Public Service line at 800-824-BONES.


Frances Whittlesey, EWGA-LI member, professional writer and communications consultant wrote the above based on information from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. A former New York Times and Newsday staff reporter, Frances writes about energy, the environment, women's issues, travel, etc. for newspapers and magazines. These days she spends much of her time as the volunteer Executive Director of the Long Island Community Agriculture Network, a non-profit that builds community gardens and promotes local agriculture. You can contact her at FCW@FranWhittelsey.com