With summer officially here, it’s time for many of us to start enjoying the great weather and getting out on the course. The problem for many golfers is that they train sporadically (if at all), so the earlier parts of the season can lead to numerous injuries. The golf swing is an unnatural, complex movement that involves numerous moving parts. It’s crucial to develop the right balance of stability and mobility due to the repeated loads placed on the body every time the club is swung.
What are some of the areas at the greatest risk?
As a result of the high loads created during the golf swing, no area of the body is immune from a golf injury. That said, certain regions are more prone to injury than others. The most common complaint is low back pain, which accounts for about 20% of reported golf injuries. This area often gets affected in golfers that do not have the necessary hip and mid back mobility, as well as the necessary low back stability needed to swing a club. Another very common area to injure playing golf is the shoulder. This is due to the large range of motion shoulders go through during the golf swing. The repetitive motion can place a lot of strain on the shoulder joint itself, as well as the muscles that surround the joint such as the rotator cuff. Other common areas of complaint include the elbow, knee and neck, so it's important to have a workout routine that protects all of these areas as much as possible to reduce the risk of injury.
What exercises can I do to prevent injury?
1. Open Book: Lie on your left side with your left knee and hip bent to 90 degrees and resting on a foam roller, towel or pillow. Begin with your palms together and slowly reach your right arm across your body as far as you can, making sure to keep your left knee on the foam roller. Return to the starting position. Perform 8-10 reps/side.
2. Mid back extension on a foam roller: Lie with your mid back on a foam roller and your hands behind your head to give you support. Slowly push the back of your head towards the ground and return to the starting position. Move the foam roller down a couple of inches and perform the same move. Repeat this movement throughout the mid back, but avoid going down to the low back.
3. Release of the hip flexors: Perform with either a foam roller or a lacrosse ball on the front of your hip where you find your pocket. Slowly roll back and forth for about 30 seconds over any knots you might feel.
4. Glute Bridge: Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor and arms comfortable out at your sides. Push your hips off the floor and form a straight line from your torso through your legs and gently squeeze your butt muscles. Hold for a second and return to starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
5. Cable/Band Chop: Start in a lunge position with your left knee forward, holding a band or cable at shoulder height on the left. Smoothly bring the band diagonally across your body towards your right pocket. Return to starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
6. Goblet Squat: Stand holding a kettlebell or dumbbell with feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly pointed out. Perform a squat, keeping the weight in front of you and your knees behind your toes. Return to starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
The exercises shown above are just an introduction to the countless number of great exercises that can help golfers. These are effective for many golfers, but it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that they are the right ones for you. You want to make sure that the choices of exercises address the mobility and stability issues that you have as an individual.