Overuse Injuries, The Most Common Golf Injuries We Treat
Golf injuries are of relatively low incidence when compared to many other sports. However, if you are a keen golfer, you may well suffer the pain and frustration of a golf related injury at some point during your hopefully long playing career. As physios and podiatrists most of the golf injuries we see in our Randwick and Sydney CBD practices are overuse injuries. Meaning the injuries arise from the action of repetitive golf swings, or the substantial time on your feet required to play a round of golf, more so than any traumatic incidents. A statistic that makes perfect sense given golf is a low impact, non-contact sport, overuse injuries are clearly likely to be considerably more common than traumatic ones.
The repetitive swinging of a club during a round of golf, with some golfers clearly taking many more swings than others, exerts significant load on several of the body’s tissues. As well as the time spent on your feet required to finish a round of 18 holes can contribute to overload type body strains. As a result here are a few common golf injuries we see in our Randwick physio practice:
Heel Pain And Golf
Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain
, and the nature of a golf game necessitates a substantial amount of walking coupled with long periods standing. Although the forces may be lower than sports involving running the volume of time on your feet means golfers suffer their fair share of plantar fasciitis. At the Movement Centre in Randwick our podiatrists and physiotherapists can assist you in beating your heel pain using a multitude of modalities we have at our disposal including:
- Foot and ankle strengthening.
- Stretching plans.
- Foot taping.
- Gait retraining and postural training.
- Where appropriate and only when necessary prescription of foot orthoses.
- Footwear changes, there are loads of great golf shoes on the market that can assist in pain management when someone is suffering with heel pain.
- Shockwave therapy
Golf And Back Pain
Back pain is the most common of all golf injuries we treat at our Randwick practice. It isn’t difficult to see why back pain is so prevalent among golfers, considering the hours upon hours each week golfer can spend bent over a ball, twisting at high speeds, up to 200kph. Combined flexion and rotational stresses of the golf swing impart considerable load on the spine. Back pain experienced by golfers can be related to several potential triggers:
Other common triggers for low back pain in golfers include:
- Soft tissues triggers, over twisting attempting to hit the ball to hard.
- Lumbar discs strains, poor postural control, often flexed lower back postures swinging a club.
- Sacroiliac joints
- Spinal joints (facet joints)
- Stress fractures
The mid back and neck are also a common source of pain in golfers. Ideally an effective swing requires good trunk rotation, a lack of mobility in the thoracic spine can lead to mid back pain, particularly if players “over rotate” attempting to swing to hard with an inflexible spine.
Weak muscles stabilizing the hips and trunk, significant stiffness of the same area, as well as poor postural control throughout the swing can all be contributors to golf injuries and something at the Movement Centre our physios can assist in addressing,
Often golf related back pain only rears its head around a significant increase in golfing load. Often this comes in the form of a golf weekend away, local club tournament, summer holidays allowing the time to sneak in a few extra rounds compared to normal. Any substantial increase in playing time and swing volume compared to the day-to-day standard can place the golfer at risk of swing over load and golf injury.
Golf Injuries And Elbow Pain
Elbow pain is a common reason golfers visit our practice looking for physio assistance. Elbow injuries from golf can be because of abnormal ground impact during the swing, their grip on the club, even simply pulling a heavy trolley full of clubs.
- Excessively firm gripping of the club
- Poor grip/swing technique
- regular ground impact on striking the ball
- major swing volume changes
To name a few, can all cause an onset of elbow related golf injuries. Tendinopathy is the most common elbow condition affecting golfers. Frequently referred to as “golfers elbow” or “tennis elbow” these tendinopathies are felt as pain on the inside and outside of the elbow respectively generally made worse with gripping activities.
Ironically “tennis elbow” is actually more common among golfers than “golfers elbow” and the risk of golfers developing tendinopathy increases with age. Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow complaints are less common in the younger golfer aged under thirty, most commonly impacting golfers aged between 30-50yrs old.
The great news is tendinopathy readily resolves when it receives the appropriate attention. The difficult part is that treatment typically requires a component of rest something many golfers aren’t overly willing to comply with. A period of rest, or activity modification, coupled with physiotherapy treatment to promote healing and pain management and appropriate swing/grip changes using a golf pro once able to hold and swing a club again can be a great recipe for success.
Things To Consider When Managing Elbow Pain In Golf:
A couple of simple ideas, tricks to assist in a smoother transition back to play when given the all clear to start hitting balls again include:
- Tennis elbow supports can be of use managing pain. Offloading, counter force braces are easy to get your hands on, cheap and research suggesting they can be of benefit in managing tennis elbow symptoms.
- Try to practice on real turf rather than rubber mats. Rubber mats and the underlying concrete can be unforgiving on impact.
- If recovering from a golfers or tennis elbow complaint consider moving the ball to a safe spot where impact with something hard like a tree root other can be avoided.
- Consider taking this a step further when returning to play following elbow injury by teeing-up the ball on fairway shots to avoid excessive ground contact
If you have any golf injuries that require attention then the team at the Movement Centre in Randwick are ready to help, be it heel pain, back pain, elbow pain, knee pain…