Physio for golfers: keeping you out of the rough

Jul 23 2018

In the UK alone it is estimated that over four million adults play some form of golf, whether that’s playing weekly rounds at a local club or attempting to hit the back net at ‘Top Golf’ with friends. Our senior physio Matthew Ramsdale, gives us the low-down on how to keep out of the rough!

Compared to sports like football or rugby, the chance of sustaining a serious injury while playing golf is low, due to the slow-paced and non-contact nature of the sport. However, it has been reported that 57% of amateur golfers suffer related injuries, mainly affecting the wrists, back, elbows and knees.

Why golf?

Golf is a sport that is accessible for people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels. On average, players completing an 18-hole course will take 12,000 steps and walk around 8.5km, substantially exceeding the advised number of steps a day to keep fit.

It is also a popular sport amongst the older generation, with nearly 50% of people playing full-length courses being aged 55+. As well as being a great way for the older generation to continue exercising and keep mobile, the social element of golf is also a big bonus.

Golf and injuries

As with all sports, golf carries a risk of injury. These injuries can occur on almost any part of the body and can be caused in a number of ways, e.g. rolling an ankle when stepping into a bunker, or straining a muscle when driving off the tee. But there’s a number of more common injuries seen in golf, including ‘golfer’s elbow’ (medial epicondylitis) and low back pain.

Golfer’s elbow

Judging by the name alone, golfer’s elbow is obviously a common injury amongst golfers. Golfer’s elbow is characterised by pain and inflammation around a tendon at the elbow. It is an overuse injury, caused by repeated ‘wrist flexion’ or bending the wrist down, a movement which occurs during the swing phase.

If you were to see a physio, after an assessment and diagnosis, you would be given a progressive plan to return to play. This would consist of the treatment, exercises and advice necessary to allow you to return to play and hopefully prevent you for any reoccurring injuries.

To start with, your physio would concentrate on settling pain and inflammation through treatment and rest from golf. However, it is often not advisable to completely rest the elbow/wrist, as this can be counterproductive in these sorts of injuries. Technique is important – you may even be advised to seek the opinion of a golf tutor in order to improve your technique and reduce the risk of a re-occurrence.

Low back pain

Most people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives; golfers are no different! Low back pain in relation to golf can be both an issue that’s caused by golf or an already present issue that is exacerbated by golf.

After an assessment by your physio, they will create a plan based around treatment and exercise to get you back playing as soon as possible. With low back pain, it is important to treat the cause of the pain, whether that’s a muscle or a joint and help you to build strength in your ‘core muscles’ to try and prevent re-injury.

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