Hitting the Golf Links Safely
Preventing shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries on the course
Even though golf is a low-risk sport, injuries can occur. According to the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 100,000 golf-related injuries are treated each year. Shoulder, wrist and elbow injuries occur most often in golf. Most shoulder injuries are due to overuse, while wrist and elbow injuries most likely occur due to improper swing or holding the clubs the wrong way.
Dr. Arthur Rettig recommends some simple ways you can prevent an injury from sidelining you from the links:
- Warm up and strengthen your muscles: Warm up your muscles to prevent strain. Also, by strengthening your forearm and shoulder muscles, it will help decrease shock in the arm when hitting the ball and reduce the risk of tendonitis or “golfer’s elbow.”
- Learn the correct technique and practice gradually: By learning the proper way to swing, you will put less strain on your muscles and joints. Tendonitis or tears of the rotator cuff can occur with poor backswing or overuse. Lessons from a golf instructor will help ensure the correct form.
- Use correct equipment: Using clubs that are too heavy or light may increase the risk of shoulder strain. It is important to use the correct equipment for your body type. Also, replace club handle grips as needed and get larger, softer grips to decrease wrist injuries.
- Wear the proper clothing: Wearing comfortable clothing protects you from the elements and wearing shoes such as cleats help your feet grip the ground, allowing for a more stable swing.
If you experience pain for more than seven days, visit an orthopedic surgeon to determine the extent of your injury and treatment options. While most injuries are not severe, more extensive injuries such as a torn rotator cuff or carpal tunnel syndrome may require surgery. A delay in treatment could cause further damage and keep you off the course when the greens beckon.
– Arthur C. Rettig M.D