Golf is not a contact sport, yet injuries are prevalent
Gail Moyers sports a knee brace while continuing to play golf. JEAN HARRIS

According to the National Golf Foundation, approximately 60% of all amateur golfers suffer with a traumatic or overuse injury during their playing years. The injury rate is higher for players over the age of 50.

Injuries are slightly different for males and females. Among amateur males, injuries occurred most often to the lower back. This can be caused by a disc injury, pulled muscle or ligaments.

The golf swing puts the lower back in a position such that, with overuse, injuries can occur.

For females, the elbow, wrist and hand are common injuries. Excessive play and practice, poor swing mechanics and mis-hits are common causes of these injuries.

Another lower body injury is the hip. The outward movement of the hips is called internal hip rotation. The golfer rotates around the right hip, shifts the weight and then rotates back around the left hip.

The hips are especially vulnerable because of the pivoting and twisting in the lower body. Hip pain might actually be caused by tears in the cartilage of the hip joint rather than arthritis, as is commonly diagnosed. Tears can be shown on a Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) and not by a typical X-ray.

Common upper body injuries are elbow and shoulder. Elbow injuries are medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow) inside of the elbow, or lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) outside of the elbow. These usually occur as a result of poor swing mechanics.

Hitting "fat" shots by hitting the ground first is a common cause of elbow injury. Rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder region are also caused by poor mechanics.

When do most golf injuries occur? The least amount of injuries occur on the backswing. Some injuries that occur are wrist and thumb, elbow tendonitis, and shoulder impingement.

The downswing has twice as many injuries as the backswing - to the rotator cuff, elbow and wrist.

Finally, impact is where the majority of injuries occur. Repetition and swing flaws can lead to injuries in the wrist, elbow, shoulders, hips and knees.

How can one prevent golf injuries? First, you need to develop a solid swing technique. A golfer with poor swing mechanics has an increased risk of injury due to the excessive stress placed on the back, shoulders, elbows, knees and hips.

You need to have s specific routine of stretching and flexibility exercises to perform prior to practicing and playing. Also, warm up slowly starting with short irons. Never start practice with full swings with your driver.

Golf will be a lot more fun if you play injury free.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. jean.golf doctor.harris@gmail.com; golfdoctorjean.com


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