With nearly 28 million golfers in the U.S., golf injuries are a common occurrence. The most commonly injured body parts for golfers are the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder and lower back. Some of the more common injuries are described here:
- Sprains or ligament injuries to the wrist most often involve pain and popping in the wrist.
- Wrist tendonitis typically occurs in the leading hand (left hand for a right handed player).
- Medial Epicondylitis, also known as “golfer’s elbow,” is a painful tendonitis on the inner aspect of the elbow, where the muscles that bend the wrist and fingers attach (Figure 1). Tendonitis on the outer aspect of the elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) is more common.
- Hamate bone fractures occur when the club strikes the ground, forcing the handle against the bony hook (Figures 2, 3 and 4). The hook part of the bone can break, causing pain in the heel of the hand.
- Damaged blood vessels can happen from the club handle repeatedly striking the palm. Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome describes an injury to one of the main arteries to the hand, where repeated blows weaken the vessel wall causing it to enlarge and sometimes to clot. This can cause local pain in the palm or disrupt blood flow going to the fingertips, producing pain, numbness and color changes in the fingertips.
To avoid such injuries, golfers should follow these four tips when golfing this season:
- Warm-up and stretch properly: 80% of golfers spend less than 10 minutes warming up before playing. This can be dangerous and cause serious injury. All golfers should have a comprehensive warm-up routine before playing.
- Gradually increase amount of play: At the beginning of the season, a golfer’s body may not be used to the intense upper extremity activity from the game, potentially causing injury. To avoid an overuse injury, gradually increase the amount of playing when the season begins.
- Core muscle strengthening: Keeping the core muscles in good shape will help prevent serious injury.
- Refining technique: Many golf injuries happen when a golfer’s swing is not in correct form. To put less stress on the body, work with an expert to refine your technique.