Most people probably assume that golf is not a sport with a risk of injury. However, this is definitely not the case. Sustaining injuries while golfing is very common, and the most commonly injured part of the body while golfing is the back, followed by wrists and elbows. The good news is that these injuries are largely preventable if you take the necessary precautions to avoid them. If you are a golfer living with back pain, trying to get back into golf after a surgery or injury, or just trying to avoid causing back pain, these tips will help you protect your back.
What To Do
Before you start your game, take 10 minutes or so to warm up your body and prepare it for the upcoming activity. A brisk walk or jumping jacks will help you loosen up, as will stretching your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine, and pelvis. You should also swing your golf club a few times, slightly extending your range of motion with each swing to ease yourself into it. Stretching regularly will also help in improving your range of motion and making your swing smoother.
Most golf injuries are a result of either poor mechanics or overuse. This is why it’s important to take the time to learn the proper form for swinging, and make sure to employ this whenever you play. The power of your golf swing should also be transferred evenly throughout all your muscle groups. Depending largely on one part of the body for hitting power will make you more vulnerable to injury.
Maintaining proper posture will protect you from injuring yourself as well. You should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and rotated slightly outward, keeping your knees slightly bent. Keep your spine straight and your trunk tilted forward. When swinging, most of the movement should come from your hips. You should also try to avoid hunching over the ball, as this can cause back neck strain.
Focusing on strengthening your muscles off of the golf course will also help protect your back because strong, conditioned muscles are less likely to become injured. You should especially concentrate on building up your core muscles because these muscles provide support to your lower back and reduce the amount of stress placed on your spine.
Use the correct lifting technique if you prefer to carry your own bag in order to avoid injuries that could lead to back or shoulder pain. When lifting your bag, keep your back straight and use your leg strength to do the lifting, rather than lifting with your back.
If you are returning to playing golf after back surgery or after recovering from a back injury, you will want to reduce the length of your swing in order to prevent back pain.
What Not To Do
It is common for golfers to overswing, but you should be careful to avoid this. Swinging the club too hard or too fast places stress on your joints. Remember that the best golfers have the most consistent swing tempos, not necessarily the fastest.
If you’re new to golf or getting back into playing, don’t jump straight into practicing your swing for hours on end or playing too many holes before your body is ready for that amount of exercise and strain. Instead, slowly work up to the level of activity that you would like to be at.
When swinging, or even when standing, avoid uneven surfaces. These surfaces can affect your posture and balance, potentially placing added strain on your back that can lead to pain.
Climbing in and out of sand traps can potentially lead to back pain and injury, so it is best to avoid this as much as possible.
You should also make an effort to avoid having too much lateral sway or hip rotation in your swing. Too much sway and rotation reduces the power of your swing and causes inconsistency. It also puts added stress on your lower back, increasing your risk of pain and injury. Use a slightly open stance and rotate your lead leg outward along your target line at least 30 degrees. This will allow for less rotation of your leading leg when finishing your swing.
If you’re golfing with a disc condition, avoid bending forward as much as possible. Using a device that will allow you to place your tee and ball on the ground as well as retrieve it without having to bend over will save your back from taking on unnecessary stress. As much as possible, keep your knees and spine straighter to reduce forward flexed posture and to make your swing more upright. You may need to use longer clubs or a larger stance width.
It’s certainly possible to sustain an injury while golfing, especially an injury that will lead to back pain. However, carefully following these tips will protect your back and reduce your likelihood of injury.
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