Amateur golfers, brace yourselves! Injuries are as common in the golfing world as sand traps and water hazards. Every year, a whopping 15-41% of amateur golfers report some form of injury. But hold your golf carts, because the stats for professional golfers are even higher, ranging from 31-90% reporting injuries annually.
Now, before you start picturing Tiger Woods hobbling down the fairway, let me clarify that the pros' numbers are inflated due to their intense practice and play schedules. Still, it's clear that injuries are a par for the course in this sport.
So, where do these injuries usually strike? Well, the lower back takes the lead, accounting for a staggering 18-36% of golf-related injuries. But don't think the lower back is hogging all the limelight. The elbow, wrist, hand, and shoulder also make appearances as common injury sites. Of course, these percentages can vary depending on which studies you read, but let's not get lost in the numbers game.
Now, here's the kicker: the majority of these golf injuries are caused by overuse. That's right, folks. It's all about putting too much strain on a particular area over an extended period. There's this fascinating concept called "the envelope of function" and tissue homeostasis, beautifully explained in Scott Dye's paper. It essentially means that when you push a body part beyond its limits for too long, it rebels against you. But fear not, my golfing comrades, because many of these injuries aren't overly complicated and can be rehabbed effectively with some basic principles.
But here's the real bogey: despite the availability of knowledge and resources, these injuries often linger for longer than necessary. Why, you ask? Well, after countless conversations with golfers like yourselves, I've noticed a few recurring reasons. Let's explore them, shall we?
First, there's the issue of seeking injury advice solely from doctors. Now, don't get me wrong, your family doctor is fantastic at managing illnesses, but they might not be the best choice when it comes to assessing, diagnosing, and creating a plan to overcome a golf-related injury. It's like going to a physiotherapist for a fever – not their area of expertise. Ideally, you'd be referred to a TPI Certified Medical Professional who specializes in sports-related injuries. It's important to note that I'm not bashing doctors here; they simply have different areas of focus. (Of course, there are exceptional doctors with knowledge in these areas, but they tend to be pricey specialist consultants.)
Another culprit is focusing on the symptoms rather than addressing the underlying cause. Sure, anti-inflammatories, ice packs, and rest might bring short-term relief, but they won't prevent the issue from resurfacing once you resume your normal golfing activities. To truly prevent a recurrence, you need to build up your body's tolerance and conditioning beyond what it was before the injury struck. It's like leveling up in a video game – you've got to power up to beat the boss.
But wait, there's more! The infamous "I'm fragile" mindset can also hinder your recovery. Strength and conditioning professionals have heard every excuse in the book: "I can't lift that with my bad back," "I need to protect my knees," "That looks too stressful for my [insert body part]," and the classic "I was told I can't do that anymore." Seriously, folks, when you have an injured area, you have two choices: Option 1, gradually train and improve the area and its surroundings, or Option 2, avoid training altogether and watch the area become weaker and more deconditioned. Spoiler alert: Option 2 isn't the path to golfing greatness.
Alright, enough with the doom and gloom. Let's talk solutions. Whether you're currently injured or trying to prevent future injuries, here's the game plan:
Seek guidance from professionals experienced in sports-related injuries, such as TPI Medical Professionals or Strength and Conditioning Coaches. They'll be able to assess your situation accurately and guide you through a tailored rehabilitation program.
Embrace the rehab process. It won't be a walk in the park (or should I say, a stroll on the fairway?), but patience is key. Gradually increase the intensity and volume of your practice and play as you progress through rehabilitation. Monitor any aggravation and adjust your activities accordingly.
Prevention is the name of the game. Incorporate a year-round strength and conditioning program to reduce the risk of injuries in the first place. Just 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times a week, can make a significant difference. Don't wait for an injury to strike before taking action.
Emphasize proper technique and form during your golf swing. Seek advice from golf professionals to ensure you're using the correct mechanics, as faulty swing mechanics can contribute to injuries.
Listen to your body. If something feels off or painful, don't ignore it. Rest, seek guidance, and address the issue early on before it becomes a bigger problem.
Remember, you're not alone in this battle against golf injuries. Many have walked this path before you, and many will follow. But by adopting a proactive approach, seeking expert guidance, and incorporating strength and conditioning exercises, you can overcome these obstacles and enhance your performance on the fairways. So, grab your clubs, swing with confidence, and enjoy the game you love – injury-free
If you're interested in preventing injury so you can continue to enjoy the game you love, we can help.
At Movement Driven we offer skilled physical therapy, one on one performance training as well as semi-private, small group fitness training all supervised by a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
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