Chris Hsu Golfing

Golf Injuries

Golf Injuries by Stephen Lau

Golf is not a contact sport, like basketball or football. Nevertheless, golf injuries are common, especially among the elderly. You do not want to be slave to your injuries, which can be debilitating or may even become chronic, forcing you to give up the sport totally.

Knowing how to recognize these injuries is the first step to prevention, which is far better than rehabilitation. If you have injuries, you need to take precautionary steps to correct the problem in order to prevent these golf injuries from happening. Be knowledgeable in their prevention.

Lower Back Injuries

Research in golf injuries has indicated that 80 percent of lower back problems are due to poor alignment of the spine and pelvic girdle, as well as the repeated strainexerted by the golf swing on different parts of your back.

Poor alignment is caused by:

  
·    body inflexibility

  
·    weak muscles

  
·    poor postural habits.

Strains and pressures are constantly exerted by the golf swing on different parts of the back, including the vertebrae, disks (cushioning plates of cartilage between vertebrae), the facet joints (joints connecting the vertebrae), the ligaments of the facet joints, and the muscles surrounding the spine.

As a result of these consistent strains and pressures on different parts of the back, often aggravated by poor alignment, your back and spine may snap, leading to debilitating golf injuries, or the more common problems of muscle strains, herniated disks, and inflamed joints and ligaments.

The golf swing is unnatural in that it exacerbates your entire back:

·    Your spine is unnaturally tilted at address.

·    You initiate an unnatural compression force in your downswing.

·   You exert an unnatural rotation force on the axis of your spine as you coil and uncoil your shoulders during the backswing and downswing.

  
·  You unnaturally bend your side at the impact and follow-through, creating compression in the lumbar area of your spine.

Pain radiating down through the leg and hip is often due to a back problem, not a hip problem. Pain radiating in the area where the disks connect (facet joints) is often localized, and sporadic (coming and going).

Fortunately, many golf injuries related to the back are both preventable and treatable.

Strengthening your abdominal and midsection for protection against golf injuries in the back

  
·   Weak abdominal muscles lead to weak posture at address, which causes poor body alignment, creating more strain on your lower back.

  
·  Strong abdominal muscles balance lumbar muscles of the back for better posture.

Regular stretching exercises for back protection against golf injuries in the back

Regular stretching exercises for the back, abdomen, and sides protect your back from golf injuries, and therefore should be done on a regular basis, regardless of how often your play the game.

Tip: Do your back stretches in the shower to benefit from the pulsating hot water.

(See 
Golf Fitness </golf-fitness.html>.)

Where and when you stretch is not as important as consistency on a daily basis. Stretch your back for golfing success.

Handling Back Injuries

Prevent back injuries as much as possible. Once they occur, you may become more prone to their future recurrence. So take care of your back now!

Once you have sustained back pain, you cannot improve it by simply working through the pain. Consider the following:

  
·   Bed rest helps the recovery process. Trying to come back too soon to the golf course can aggravate the problem.

  
·  Immediately after a back injury, apply ice to reduce swelling and inflammation. Afterwards, apply heat therapy (a hot bath or shower).

  
·   See a physician.

  
·   Wear a brace for temporary support of your back.

Ease yourself back into action with daily walking and other stretch exercises.
Neck injuries

Neck problems related to golf injuries are often related to the spine. More than 90 percent of neck problems are due to:

  
·   your poor posture

  
·   unnatural bending in the cervical curve of your spine

Neck injuries occur:

  
·   head down to focus on the ball (pay extra attention to the setup)

  
·   head up to enable the shoulders to turn during the swing

To address the neck problems to avoid golf injuries, read “neck rotations” in 
Golf Fitness.)

Neck problems may adversely affect other muscle groups in the upper part of your body.

Changing Eating Habits

For better golf nutrition, stop your addiction to near-junk food on the golf course. To alleviate your food craving, you must change some of your eating habits:

  ·   Chew more while eating, and feel less hungry by sending a “fullness” signal to your brain.

  ·   Eat more fiber, giving your stomach nerves a “bulky” as well as “satisfying” sensation.

  ·   Stop eating processed foods, designed by food manufacturers to make you “feel” hungry and want more all the time. The more you eat, the richer the food manufacturers become. You will always be the ultimate loser — you lose your health, your money, except your weight!

  ·   Always eat a light breakfast, such as a piece of fresh fruit or glass of juice — and no more.

Golf nutrition would be impossible if you do not get rid of some of the toxins in your body. Without detoxification, any golf nutrition simply goes down the drain.

Detox your body with Master Cleanse

  Health Rejuvenation for Golfing Success

If your body has been cleansed thoroughly, you should then focus on its rejuvenation.

A balanced acid-alkaline level

Your body is made up of millions of cells, which constantly die and replace themselves throughout your lifespan. The health of your newly regenerated cells is dependent on the building materials which thrive on a balanced acid-alkaline environment, also known as the pH level of your body.

The pH scale ranges between one and fourteen. Seven is considered neutral. Your body is healthy when it operates slightly alkaline. Excess acid wastes will severely compromise cellular function in your body by shutting off oxygen and nutrient uptake, and disrupting cellular frequency for better communication. This happens when you mind gives the intended signals to your body during your golf swing, but your body fails to respond to the proper signals. In other words, you mind may want to do one thing, but your body ends up doing something else instead.

A balanced acid-alkaline level contributes to balanced minerals in your body for optimum mental and physical performance. Good golf nutrition requires The Acid Alkaline Diet, which provides excellent information on how to alkalize your diet through your choice of foods. Many experts believe that a balance of acidity and alkalinity will make you disease free. Good golf nutrition cannot do without this phenomenal book.

Efficient nutrient absorption

Eating only natural foods provides you with nutrients and fiber your body needs for permanent weight control and wholesome wellness.

Overeating is essentially a lack of nutrients in your body. Your body is hungry for nutrients, not carbohydrates, fats, and proteins; they are only substitutes for the nutrients your body is not getting from your food. For example, if you are deficient in vitamin B complex, you may crave peanut butter, which happens to be rich in vitamin B complex. Your body demands what is in peanut butter that can satisfy that deficiency in you. Not meeting that inherent deficiency, you will continue to eat, simply because your body continues to remain unsatisfied.

However, eating more may still not meet that nutrient deficiency, especially if you continue to eat bad food, which may only further deplete that deficiency. Your body has no choice but to draw from the limited nutrient resources accumulated in your body, leading to all types of deficiency disease.

Nutrition depletion not only distorts your body’smetabolism, which is vital to weight control, but also affects your body organs, especially your brain. Therefore, to play the game in the optimum mental and physical conditions, you need wisdom in golf nutrition.

Absorption of nutrients will always be inadequate and incomplete unless there is complete food digestion, which requires the following:

  ·   Adequate enzyme activity is necessary throughout your whole gastrointestinal tract — from mouth to descending colon. Nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, biotin and folic acid are required to foster enzyme activity, which are often destroyed by antibiotics in your drugs and improper diet.

  ·  Eating raw food regularly is a rational way to obtain enzymes for healthy digestion. Go on a raw food diet for optimum digestive function. Try to eat raw, at least occasionally.

  ·   An adequate amount of water has to be present to precipitate biochemical activities in your intestinal tract; otherwise, poor digestion will result in poor absorption.

  Always drink plenty of water on the golf course. Water is water, and fruit drinks, soft drinks, coffee are no substitute for the water you need to replenish your body.

  ··   Adequate and balanced minerals are required for optimum absorption of nutrients during food digestion. However, most inorganic mineral salts, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, may interfere with one another’s absorption; too much of any may block absorption of the other minerals in that group, resulting in deficiency. Minerals have to be balanced; more may not necessarily be better.

  ·  Accumulation of mucus on the lining of your gastrointestinal tract wall caused by disease and dehydration will also adversely affect your absorption of nutrients.

Golf nutrition requires you to eat right. You are your food, and your food is you. You are what you eat. Eating is a science, and therefore should be treated as such. Golf nutrition makes you a better golf player.

Shoulder Injuries

Female golfers are more vulnerable to shoulder golf injuries than their male counterparts, and amateur female golfers have more shoulder problems than female professionals. Older golfers are more likely to sustain rotator cuff injuries than younger golfers. This disparity indicates that having sound swing mechanics and powerful physical strength play a critical role in preventing shoulder injuries.

Accordingly, shoulder strength and shoulder health contribute to your golfing success. Strong legs and hips, a strong back and a strong abdomen midsection would not bring about a powerful swing without uninhibited shoulder mobility.

On the other hand, restricted shoulder mobility may not only cause shoulder injury but also result in a short, off-line shot.

During the golf swing, a series of complex motions are involved: the lead shoulder rotating internally and externally; the shoulders lifting and dropping the arm; the shoulders moving laterally back and forth across the chest. Such complex motions require synchronized and balanced movements between all the muscles in and around the rotator cuffs.

Causes of shoulder injuries: repetition and trauma

Shoulder injuries are often caused by repetition of the same complex motions over a sustained period. Not to mention that it is often impossible to deliver a perfect swing all the time, repeatedly swinging the golf club will exert repetitive strain on your rotator cuffs.

Shoulder injuries are also due to the trauma initiated by the forces pulling against the shoulders, especially when you hit the ball flat (that is, hitting the ground or other object instead of the ball).

Handling your shoulder problems due to golf injuries

  
·  Stop playing or practicing your golf if you think you have sustained a shoulder injury.

  
·   If you have complete mobility without any pain, you may be fine. On the other hand, if you feel excruciating pain when you attempt to rotate your shoulder in a particular direction, add ice to reduce swelling, and seek a doctor if necessary.

Exercise Rotator Cuffs

External rotators strengthening

Lie on your side with your bottom arm extended above you, such that your head is resting on your biceps.

Bend your top arm, placing your elbow against your side.

Internal rotator strengthening

Lie on your side with a pillow or towel under your head for support.

Tuck your bottom arm close to your body..

Bend your arm at the elbow, keeping your biceps against your body and holding a dumbbell with palm up in your bottom hand.

Exercise for shoulder and chest stretch

On the golf course, stand with feet apart.
Hold the golf club behind your back in both hands.
Slowly extend both arms backwards.
Hold for 30 seconds. Progressively hold the stretch a little longer.

Stretch exercise on the golf course to improve shoulder rotation

On the golf course, stand with feet apart; hold golf club directly in front of you, one hand on the grip and the other on the club-head.

Slowly rotate the club, lowering the club-head towards your navel.

Cross the grip across your torso; feel the stretch in the rotator cuff; hold 30 seconds; repeat to the opposite side.

Hand and Elbow Injuries

Golf injuries in the hands and elbows are common, ranging from soreness in the thumb to swelling and pain in the fingers and wrists. Golf injuries in the hands and wrists may even lead to surgery. These golf injuries are commonplace because the hands are the only link between the golfer and the golf club.

Golf injuries in the hands and elbows are due to the repetitive use of muscles in your forearms, your elbows, your wrists, and your arms.

Causes of elbow problems due to golf injuries

The golf elbow syndrome occurs more frequently among senior golfers and occasional golfers due to the following:

  ·   weaker forearm muscles and tighter tendons as a result of age or infrequent use

  ·   tighter grip with more increased pressure on the golf club

  ·   higher frequency of swing mistakes, such as overcocking the wrists and lifting the golf club

Handling of your elbow problems

  
·   Let your elbows rest for a couple of days with no lifting and little bending of your elbows.

  ·   Apply ice to your elbows several times a day to relieve the inflamed tendons.

  ·   Use forearm braces, if necessary.

Preventing golf injuries in your elbows

With proper exercise and technique, you can avoid elbow problems due to golf injuries.

  ·   Reduce your grip pressure. A sound grip, which is a relaxed grip, is a healthy grip to avoid golf injuries. Tension in your hands often extends up our arms, to your chest and back, leading to potential golf injuries throughout your body. Lighten up in your grip!

  ·   Regularly change the grips on your golf clubs. Do not let your grips get dirty and become worn-out.

       o Regularly replace your grips.

       o Clean your grips as often as possible.

       o Wipe your grips with a damp towel before every round.

  ·   Regularly stretch your forearms to maintain the flexibility of the tendons in your elbow and wrists.

       o Stretch out and extend one arm in front of you chest as far as possible.

       o Flex your wrist as far back as possible.

       o Use your other hand to extend the stretch by applying pressure to your 
          fingers.

       o Hold for 30 seconds.

       o Repeat with the other hand.

The forearm stretch exercise can be performed anywhere and anytime, even during a round of golf. This exercise repeated regularly will significantly avoid elbow problems due to golf injuries.

Thumb problems

The thumb of your lead hand is most prone to golf injuries during the golf swing.

If your hand is weak, you tend to grip the golf club harder.

Rest is the best treatment for most thumb injuries. Bandage your thumb to your hand for complete immobility.

Hip and knee injuries

Your hips and knees are easily susceptible to golf injuries simply because they are so active throughout the entire game, from walking to beginning your pre-shot routine, swinging the club, and stabilizing and supporting your body in the follow-through.

Hip problems

Shooting the ball from the hip is an unnatural motion requiring a flexible hip, without which problems are sure to ensue. Problems at the hips and knees seem to intensify as you age as your body begins to lose its flexibility.

For a better swing, keep your hips more flexible. To avoid golf injuries, practice healing hip stretches.

Stretching your inner thigh muscles

Sit on the floor with your back straight and your feet in front of you.

Slowly spread your knees apart, keeping the soles of your feet together.

Grab your feet and slowly pull them to you, keeping the back straight while pressing your knees to the floor.

Abductor stretch exercise

Sit with legs extended in front and hands behind with palms resting on the floor; push chest out, keeping back straight and elbows soft; bend right leg, bringing it in toward center line of body; guide the leg inward.

Tuck in right leg and use left hand to guide left leg toward center line of body; place both soles of feet together; press down with arms to move knees apart, while keeping back straight; feel stretch along the insides of thighs; hold.

Keep back upright and straight; guide right leg to extend at 45 degrees angle; repeat for left leg; point toes outward and stretch legs as far as possible; keep back straight and breathe deeply; hold the full stretch; release and bring legs together.

Before or during a round, stand with your right-hand holding onto your golf club.

Cross your left leg over your right leg, keeping both feet on the ground and close to each other.

Bend slowly and slightly at the waist towards the golf club.

Hold for 30 seconds.

Repeat with the other hand.

Stretching your inner thigh muscles on the golf course

Knee problems

Injuries to knees often result from:

  
·  locking your knees during the golf swing

  
·   over-active sliding knees during the golf swing

In addition, locking and sliding knees foul up your swings.

Maintain your knee health by keeping an eye on your knees during the golf swing.

In summary, increasing strength in your lower body and keeping your lower body limber establish the firm foundation on which the golf swing is developed, thereby instrumental in initiating the power and speed in the downswing. More importantly, strengthening your lower body and keeping it flexible is the key to preventing golf injuries