Golf is a sport that is prone to injury. No mater how long you have been involved in the sport the more likely it is that you will injure yourself. It is most likely reason for injuring your self is inappropriately swing the golf club. Professional golfers commonly injure the wrist, followed by the back, hand, shoulder, and knee. Amateur golfers most commonly injuries the lower back, followed by the elbow, wrist, shoulder, and knee. It is obvious that you can be injured even in non-contact sports such as golf, swimming, and track. If you under stand the golf swing you can avoid or correct these injuries but if they are persistent some sort of physical medicine may help.
Let’s analyze the golf swing. There are three phases to the golf swing, and each can cause injury if executed incorrectly. There are also specific exercises you can perform to help reduce your risk of hurting yourself during that particular swing phase.
Phase 1: Take-Away. The take-away consists of the back swing. Thumb and wrist injuries are most common during this phase particularly on the lead hand. Here is an effective workout for the muscles of the wrist, hand and forearm. To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a 5-pound dumbbell in your right hand. Keeping your arm to your side and using only your wrist, raise the dumbbell as high as you can and lower it as far as you can. Do two sets of 25 reps. Next, do another two sets of 25 reps, but while moving your wrist from side to side as far as you can. Repeat this entire workout with the dumbbell in your left hand. An advanced workout for your wrists would be to take a barbell/dumbbells with a weight you can handle, anywhere from 10-45 pounds, and do three exercises (known as a “tri-set”) back to back to back without rest. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and grab the weight with your hands facing down, shoulder-width apart, held which each thumb. Reverse curl the weight up toward your body, flexing the forearm as you finish the movement at the top. Do 10 reps. Next, hold the weight behind you, palms facing up and even with your gluteus maximus (your buttocks). The back of your hand should be touching the top of your buttocks. Raise the weight as high as you can without moving your arms; use your wrist only for 10 reps. Finally, sit down on the bench and rest your forearms on your thighs. Do not allow your wrists to rest on your knees. Hold the weight with your palms up and move only your wrist vertically for 10 reps. Do not rest and perform another tri-set, but this time do 12 reps, and then finish the last set with 15 reps. Another option is to pyramid: increase the amount of weight while decreasing the number of repetitions. For example: 10 pounds for 15 reps, 12 pounds for 12 reps, and 15 pounds for 10 reps. There is an inverse relationship at play here: As you add more weight, you do less reps.
Phase 2: Impact. The next phase of the swing consists of the downswing and impact with the ball. The most common injuries during this phase knee particularly the back of the knee and compression forces acting on both wrists. Also, the lead elbow and hand/wrist are often hurt during impact. In terms of exercises that can help prevent these injuries, leg extensions/leg curls and abduction/adduction exercises. Many fitness clubs have equipment for these types of exercises. These exercises along with regular stretching and massage, are extremely effective for the legs. Triceps push-downs using a reverse grip with the hands up is an excellent exercise for the triceps and will help to prevent injury to the elbows. High-intensity training (one set to muscle exhaustion for each exercise, using slow, deliberate movements) works well and is a safe method of training for all the exercises above. For the legs, do 15-20 reps; for the triceps/elbows, do 8-12 reps.
Phase 3: Follow-Through. This is the phase after impact where the golfer finishes his swing. From a chiropractic stand point this can be the most damaging phase for your spine because it involves abnormal torque on the low back. This phase requires training the oblique muscles. Using a trunk rotation machine, at your local gym, twist slowly in a circular fashion for 20-25 reps, and also use lower back extension machine for 15-20 reps. Keep the weight light and the reps high for this exercises and make sure to do them slowly and eliminate momentum. Strengthen the core muscles with these exercises will help prevent back injuries. This means that a routine of exercises for the back will help your game and while you are at it don’t forget back stretching as well.
Stretching and massage can also help prevent injury but always warm up before stretching to bring blood area. You should warm up before a round of golf, take a brisk walk or get a quick massage that includes techniques and stretches to increase range of motion. The right way to stretch is important. Begin with three sets of 10-15 deep knee bends and then walk a quarter of a mile. Next, perform a series of stretches. Reciprocal inhibition stretches, performed by stretching to a level at which your body innately says stop, is effective for increasing range of motion without over-stretching and injuring yourself. When you reach the point at which your body says stop, contract the opposite muscle and hold the contraction for several seconds; then release. There should be an increase in of range of motion Now hold the new position for at least 30 seconds, then move on to your next stretch.
Some good stretches are toe-touch stretches and side stretches. When doing the toe-touch stretch, you must keep a flat back. Do not round your back. When you drop down into the stretch, contract your gluteus maximus and hold the contraction for 6-7 seconds, then breathe and release and you will find yourself falling deeper into the stretch. You must remember not to hold your breath even during an Isometric contraction and always feel your breath releasing in and out of your nose. You should also breathe deeply through your diaphragm. The toe-touch stretch will increase flexibility in the hamstrings. Place one arm over you head and bend to the side to do the side stretch. Do this stretch in increments as follows. Go as far as possible without pulling the muscle, then contract the gluteus maximus muscle for several seconds; then release and drop into the stretch, holding for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.
Cooling down after playing is imperative to do some simple breathing and stretching exercises after golfing. Lie flat on your back and tuck your knees to your chest and breathe; hold for 30 seconds. Extend your arm in the supine position [palm up], grab your finger tips and pull your hand down; again, hold for 30 seconds. Next, extend your arm in the prone position (palm down) and grab your fingertips and pull toward you from the bottom position. Hold for 30 seconds. These simple exercises are essential to injury prevention following each round of golf, practice session, etc.
Injuries can happen at any time in any sport, but following these suggestions can certainly help you avoid severe and permanent injuries whenever you’re golfing.
Why are so many golfers are injured every year? 27 million injuries annually, according to some estimates. The average golfer has no warm-up or stretching protocols for golf then they are swinging the club with violent, intermittent effort. This is a recipe for injury and in addition the average golfer uses the “grip it and rip it” golf swings. On top of this many golfers have varied amounts of pre-existing postural dysfunction and poor flexibility. When you add it all up, this is a recipe for injury. Many of these golfers are suffering from repetitive strain injuries due to lack of flexibility, postural instability and poor swing mechanics.
Isn’t it time to repair your golf swing. Contact Mahler family Chiropractic Center and we will help get your golf game back into the swing of things.
By: Paul R. Mahler Jr. DC
Mahler Family Chiropractic Center
1144 wyoming Ave.
Kingston, PA. 18704
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We can treat golf injuries and pain including neck pain, back pain, rotator cuff, foot pain, carpal tunnel, and much more.