It’s a beautiful, breezy day. You’ve gathered your golf buddies for a great day on the greens.
You’re on the 7th hole when suddenly your back gives out mid-swing.
Sustaining a golf related injury is usually the furthest thing from everyone’s mind when they cheerfully arrive at the course or the driving range.
Unfortunately, golfing injuries are all too common – especially in golfers who play for leisure.
No one wants to get carted away to the doctor’s mid-game. That’s why our team shares these quick and easy ways to prevent golfing injuries:
#1: Warm Up
Just like any other sport, golfer’s need to warm up before practice, playing for leisure, or playing competitively in order to avoid injury.
Plus, you will always perform better when you take a few minutes to warm up your body.
A warmup will immediately decrease stiffness and loosen your muscles so that you can have a full range of motion while swinging.
Once you finish your warmup, do not stand around for more than a couple of minutes (which will undo the warmup!). Keep stretching until it is your turn to play.
Try this quick warmup before your next golf outing:
The Brief Power Walk
Walk briskly for 3-5 minutes. This improves your circulation and acts as a wake-up call for your muscles and mind to prepare them for a great performance.
Dynamic stretching is a proven method of easing stiffness for golf and any other sport. Unlike static stretching, where you hold a stretch for more than 30 seconds, dynamic stretching includes short and repetitive stretches that you only hold for about five seconds.
Try a few of these pre-golf dynamic stretches to alleviate lingering stiffness:
Hold on to a tall, sturdy object (such as your golf cart or a tree) for support. Stand tall and swing your right leg side-to-side about five times. Repeat on the left leg.
Then, stand tall and swing your right leg front-to-back five times. Repeat of the left leg.
Leg swings stretch the hip flexor and glutes, which play a huge role in a golf swing.
Toe touches with toes pointed up:
Point your toes up. Without hunching your back, bend over to reach your toes. Hold for two seconds and repeat five times.
Toe touches relieve tension from the Achilles to the lower back, which helps you avoid common golfing injuries such as lower back pain and hamstring strains.
Hold your golf club at both ends with arms extended and stand with feet hip-width apart. Slowly rotate your upper body as far as you can to the right, hold for five seconds, and repeat five times. Repeat again for the left side.
This dynamic stretch mimics the motion of a golf swing, loosening all of the trunk muscles so that you can swing smoothly without limitations in your range of motion.
Clench your right fist and roll it around five times in one direction and then the other. Repeat with your left fist.
Posterior shoulder stretch:
Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Put your right arm straight out in front of you and hold the back of the right elbow with your left hand. Use the left hand to push your right arm across your chest. Hold for ten seconds and repeat once.
Repeat this for the left arm.
This stretch will warm up your arms and shoulders for the perfect swing.
Tilt your head so that your right ear reaches toward your right shoulder. Inhale as you extend your left arm towards the ground. Exhale while relaxing the arm. Repeat five times for each side.
Neck pain is particularly common in golfers who swing with poor posture. Doing this stretch, along with the other warm up exercises, will relieve stiffness to promote better swinging posture.
Devote the last couple of minutes of your warmup to practice swings. Focus on perfecting your posture and aligning your club and body properly.
The practice swings won’t just improve your range of motion to prevent injury – they will help you visualize success to set you up for a great performance.
#2: Mobility & Flexibility
Don’t reserve mobility and flexibility exercises just for game day. Practice these exercises every day to avoid not only golfing injuries, but injuries that can happen from daily activities such as cleaning or lifting.
Some of the best mobility exercises for golfers which increase the range of motion in the joints include:
- Hip Circles
- Arm Circles
- Shoulder Circles
- Cat and Camels
Avoid your muscles from tightening up throughout the day (especially if you sit a lot) by stretching frequently. As a golfer, you will want to focus specifically on stretching the hamstrings, hips, trunk, arms, shoulders, and neck.
Weak muscles and muscular imbalances are a leading cause of most sports-related injuries.
Strengthening isn’t just great for injury prevention – the right strengthening exercises will dramatically improve your golf performance, as well.
Because a golf swing requires a sudden burst of energy, you will want to perform multi-joint, rotational, and speed-training strengthening exercises.
Some great strengthening exercises to begin with include:
- Bodyweight Lunges: Lunges work the stabilizing muscles in your ankles, calves, quads, glutes, core, and shoulders. You can add dumbbells once you have mastered the bodyweight lunge.
- Medicine Ball Rotation Exercises: These include Russian twists, side-throws, and back throws with a medicine ball – all of which mimic the rotation of a golf swing and strengthen the muscles used to hit the longshots.
- Deadlifts: These multi-joint exercises strengthen all of the muscles used in golf while also enhancing your swinging power, speed, and grip.
#4: Increase Play Time Gradually
Perhaps you’re a weekend warrior golfer but decided to start golfing every day to get better.
Rapidly increasing your play time is sure to end in soreness and likely, an injury.
It is best to increase your play time gradually. If you really want to make some gains in golf, start incorporating the stretching, mobility, and strengthening exercises while slowly increasing your play time.
#5: Practice Your Posture
We don’t just mean on the golf course.
The best way to avoid most golf injuries, particularly lower back pain, is to have good posture when sitting, standing, exercising, and of course, golfing.
When you swing, most of the power and movement should come from your hips, rather than your spine or trunk.
Practice smooth, controlled swings with proper posture. Your swing posture should look as follows:
- Feet shoulder-width apart and rotated slightly outward
- Knees slightly bent
- Spine mostly straight with trunk tilted forward as you use your hips to drive the swing
- Back kept upright throughout the motion (no hunching over the ball)
Stuck with a Golf-Related Injury? We Can Help!
Our team of sports physical therapists at Back in Motion Sport & Spine Physical Therapy in Fort Myers, Florida, has helped everyone from beginner golfers to PGA pros recover from golf-related injuries and boost their golf performance.