Get in the Swing: Prevent Common Golf Injuries

Former Galesburg Silver Streak and Bradley Brave, Mike Owens, keeps active playing golf and following the advice of his orthopedic doctors at ORA Orthopedics.

Getting inspired by the pros at the John Deere Classic? ORA Orthopedics Surgeon Dr. Waqas Hussain has some tips that will keep you swinging safe as you head back out on the links yourself!

Tips from a Quad City sports medicine doc help keep you fit for the links!

Golf may seem like a low-injury sport, but the repeated rotational force of your swing can wreak havoc on everything from your feet to your neck. Just about every muscle is used during a round of golf!

Two of the most common overuse injuries are to the elbows and low back, with 32% occurring in the elbow and 36% occurring in the back, according to a Harvard study.

Golfer’s elbow

The motion of the swing, repeated over and over, puts extra stress on the tendons, joints, and bones of your whole body.

Golfer’s elbow is a particularly common result.

W. Hussain
Waqas Hussain, M.D. – ORA Orthopedics

“Golfer’s elbow creates pain and tenderness from the inside of your forearm up to the inside of your elbow,” Quad City Sports Medicine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Waqas Hussain, ORA Orthopedics, says. “It might even hurt to make a fist.”

Preventing elbow injuries

“Focus on strengthening your muscles,” he says. “It’s especially helpful to do so during the off season, but there are some great exercises you can do anytime.”

Dr. Hussain demonstrates with a small, soft ball.

“First, take a tennis-sized ball and squeeze it,” Dr. Hussain says. “Squeeze and release for about 5 minutes. It will strengthen your forearm muscles to build endurance and help prevent injury.”

Next, he explains, slip one foot into an elastic band and grasp the other end with your corresponding hand. Curling your hand up toward your face, then relax it back down also works those muscles.

“Repeat this exercise 10 times for 3 sets each, 3 or 4 times a week, and you’ll experience a difference in your muscle strength,” he says.

Preventing back injuries

Overextending your back muscles while swinging your clubs is also very common, especially if you don’t work out every day. Dr. Hussain suggests a particularly helpful low-back exercise using another elastic band.

“Wrap the band around something stable like a post or door hinge and pull it back and forth in a rowing fashion,” he says. “This will isolate your low-back muscles and give them a gentle, but great workout.”

While the arm and back exercises should be performed a few times every week, you also need to take the time to warm up before you hit the links. Warm muscles are less subject to injury.

“Before you start a round of golf, stretch your shoulders, back, legs, and arms,” Dr. Hussain advises. “Hit a bucket of balls. Work on your technique. Slowing down your golf swing also helps prevent injury.”

A final word to the wise …

Whether you exercise and do your warm ups or not, a few more dangers lurk out on the links. The sun, golf carts, and even other golfers are chief among them.

“Wear sunscreen,” Dr. Hussain says. “And be sure to keep your hands and feet in the golf cart. We see injuries to ankles – even broken bones – from careless golf cart use.

“Finally, be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to get hit by a club or errant golf ball, especially when you’re followed by a golfer like me who’s not very good.”

In other words, when you hear someone yell, “Fore,” duck!

For more information on golf-related injuries, call the Sports Medicine Center at ORA Orthopedics at (563) 322-0971.