DOs and DON’Ts for Duffers
Golf season is in full swing and if you’re among those who treasure time on the links, don’t let aches, pains or injuries take you out of the game. UR Medicine spine specialist and avid golfer Dr. Clifford Everett says many issues can be prevented or improved with the right conditioning, and proper body mechanics on the course.
Here are Dr. Everett’s DOs and DON'Ts for reducing injuries and improving your game:
DO work to build muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Doing so may help you avoid:
- Back pain from leaning over your clubs for hours at a time, and from swinging the club—especially if the mechanics of your swing are off.
- Elbow tendonitis from an improper swing or from gripping the club too tightly.
- Rotator cuff damage from poor swing mechanics, or from the jarring impact of accidentally striking the ground or other object during the swing.
- Hip injuries from an improper swing that produces a lot of force on the body.
- Wrist, hand and foot injuries, which are common from the wear and tear that a powerful, complex, full-body movement like a golf swing can produce.
DO make fitness a year-round priority, not just a tune-up for golf season. Consider getting a movement screening, where a golf-certified expert, physical therapist, or athletic trainer can identify any limitations and develop a conditioning and stretching regimen to address them.
DO have your swing evaluated by a golf pro, athletic trainer, or physical therapist. The good news is, there is no one right way to swing a golf club. A professional can help you adapt your swing to your physical capabilities so that you aren’t putting undue stress on your body.
DON'T assume that arm strength is all it takes to make the ball fly. A golf swing is a dynamic movement that involves every part of the body. If one movement in your swing is “off” it can disrupt your body’s natural balance—and a weak link in one body part means other muscles are compensating and overexerting on every swing. That makes you more prone to injuries.
DON'T try to imitate the pros. They’re professionals for a reason and they’re genetically gifted, have had years of training and coaching, and spend many hours a day in training and practice. Their swings have been meticulously engineered by the very best coaches and pros. You should work on developing the best swing for you—one suited to your strengths, physical conditioning, body composition, and flexibility.
DO use your glutes like a pro. Strengthen your gluteal muscles (your backside) to achieve power on your golf swing. When you stand over the ball and bend to swing, maintain that spine angle as you swing the club. Amateur golfers stand up too early and often end up with lower back pain as a result. A trainer can provide strengthening exercises for this and any other body area you need to improve.
DO think long term and adapt your game as your body ages. If you have ongoing physical conditions that can’t change, you can still enjoy golf, but may need to adjust the way you play. That may mean a more conservative swing, nine holes instead of 18, or taking a cart versus walking the course.
DO seek help if you need it to prevent injury, improve your game, and increase your fun. When you think about all the time and money you spend on golf equipment and course fees, a short-term intervention that can keep you healthy and improve your performance and satisfaction with your sport is a good investment.
Clifford Everett, M.D., is an associate professor of Orthopaedics and Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation at UR Medicine. He specializes in non-surgical treatment of lower back pain and spinal disorders such as spinal stenosis and sciatica. As a Titleist Performance Institute Certified Golf Expert, Everett has earned national certification to provide golf-specific movement screening, injury assessment and rehabilitation plans to golfers. He is actively involved in a sports physical therapy golf performance group.
Lori Barrette |