Time to Hit the Links!

The popularity of golf has surged in recent years, particularly among women. Golf is a great game that can provide exercise, relaxation and social interaction. If you believe the companies trying to sell you golf gear, recent equipment refinement and innovation have also made the game a little easier. True or not, the human body still has to swing the club, and there are some things you should know about avoiding a golfing injury.

First the bad news….

Golf is perceived as a relatively low risk activity – in terms of injury to participants. Recent scientific research, however, has shown that the risk for injury while golfing is much higher than most people would expect. The findings include:

• 55% of golfers will suffer a golf-related injury
• the leading causes of injury in amateur golfers are poor technique and poor preparation
• approximately half of all golf injuries are chronic injuries (lasting greater than 6 weeks)
• injury rate increases as age increases
• injury rate increases as skill level increases

According to Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Larry Foster (the author of “Dr. Divot’s Guide to Golf Injuries), the three conditions most likely to affect golfers are low back pain, tennis/golfer’s elbow, and shoulder pain.

And now the good news….

Your golf game can be improved. And, the frequency and severity of golf injuries can be dramatically reduced through a program of strength and flexibility training.

Golfers can improve their swings in various ways by incorporating golf exercises into a workout routine. Lengthening the backswing, improving rotation, strengthening wrists and forearms and the core muscles. A golf specific flexibility and strengthening program will feature exercises focused on the key areas of the body associated with golf injuries: the neck, shoulders and chest, elbows, forearms and wrists, back (especially the lower back), hips, hamstrings, quads and calfs.

Always warm up and stretch before, during and after playing…

Always get to the course early enough to allow for a proper warm up and stretch before you step onto that first tee! As the round progresses, stay warm and limber by stretching between holes. When you get home after playing, a few more minutes of gentle stretching will help to keep you flexible and avoid stiffness.

When adding a new exercise to your routine, always go slow and pay attention to form. A physiotherapist can help if you are uncertain about which exercises you should do, or how they should be performed. Also remember to consult a physician before beginning any new exercise routine, especially if you have health concerns.

Now that you’re doing everything you can to avoid injury, get out there and play! And remember to have fun!

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