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Nothing says warm weather quite like grabbing a couple buddies and heading to the driving range or your favorite golf course. Regardless of whether you’re a social golfer or a devoted course regular, UnityPoint Health providers have some suggestions to avoid a golf injury and better your game on the greens.
Your Pre-Game: Golf Stretches & Warm-Up
What you do before hitting the course plays a big part in how well you perform while on it. Christopher Palmer, MD, UnityPoint Health, says you should make stretching a staple in your pre-game golf routine.
“There are a number of exercises that can be done pre-round, as well as during the off season or preseason that will decrease the likelihood of injuries or problems,” Dr. Palmer says. “Probably the most important is a general stretching and strengthening rehabilitation program for your core muscles and the back.”
While most golfers know keeping your back healthy is a must, it’s still the most common golf injury. Palmer lists other injuries typically seen in golfers:
· Shoulder pain or rotator cuff strains/tendonitis
· “Golfer’s elbow” or tendonitis
· Wrist and hand pain
· Plantar fasciitis or foot pain
· Knee, hip and other orthopedic injuries (less frequent)
In addition to protecting your body, make sure to protect your skin. Walking or riding for even nine holes can mean hours in the sun. Apply SPF 30 sunscreen on exposed skin, and reapply every two hours to guard against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays while golfing.
Your Technique: The Proper Golf Swing
Proper golf swing mechanics can help prevent injuries while improving your game.
“A golf swing that doesn’t utilize the appropriate combination of rotation and rhythm of the hips, back and shoulders can create undue stress and strain leading to pain or injury, but it’s not just swing mechanics that can cause concern. Improper lifting of heavy golf bags with too many clubs, ball retrievers, umbrellas, balls, water bottles and other golf ‘gadgets’ also adds stress, especially putting the back and shoulders at risk,” Dr. Palmer says.
Less flexible or older golfers may want to consider using a longer putter, as well as a putter with a suction cup device on the handle to easily pick up balls from the course.
Your Tools: Fitted Golf Clubs
If you don’t own your own set of golf clubs, you might be tempted to borrow a friend’s or rent a set from the course, but, it could negatively impact your score.
“Golfers of all body types might see their on-course performance dip, if they’re playing with poorly-fitted clubs. Golfers with higher handicaps or slower swing speeds might benefit from shafts with less stiffness. There is benefit to a professional club fitting to ensure shaft length, type and lie of angle of the club fit your body type, as all of these affect flight of the ball and quality of game,” Dr. Palmer says.
Specifically, junior golfers and women and men who are unusually tall or short would benefit from appropriate club adjustments, which certain sporting goods retailers offer.
If at any time you question aches, pains or injuries you experience while golfing, contact your UnityPoint Health provider.