A Golfer's Guide to a Healthy Season

As the weather begins to get warmer in St. Louis, more and more golfers are getting out to enjoy the sunshine.  Each year, 15%-20% of golfers are injured.  These injuries are typically due to overuse, but they can also be traumatic injuries that happen on the course.

P.R.I.C.E. Treatment Method

P. Protect – protect the injury from further harm by using a brace, splint, immobilizer, or ACE bandage.

R. Rest – Rest the injured area by not participating in activities that are painful to perform.

I. Ice – Ice the area for 20 minutes every 2 hours.  Never use heat because that will cause the area to swell even more.

C. Compression – Compress the swelling using an ACE bandage or compression wrap to limit any further swelling.  When wrapping the injured area, start at the furthest point away from the body and move towards the body.  Be sure that you are not cutting off circulation.

E. Elevation – Elevate the injured area above the heart to pull blood flow away from the injured area.

Common injuries:

Back pain

Muscle aches and pains are most commonly related to tension, overuse, or muscle injury from physically-demanding work or exercise such as golf.  In these situations, the pain tends to involve specific muscles and starts during or just after the activity.  Muscle aches and pains are common and can involve more than one muscle and other soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and fascia.

Low back pain related to muscle and ligament strain is the most common type of chronic pain among golfers.  Usually, the pain can be resolved with rest, physical therapy, or other orthopedic treatment.

Golfer’s Elbow

Golfers are more likely to injury the tendons on the inside of the elbow, and this is called golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis.  Some people may also feel stiffness in their elbow or weakness in their hands or wrists.  Because there are nerves that run through this part of the elbow, people suffering from golfer’s elbow may also report tingling or a pins and needles sensation in their hands or fingers. This injury is similar to tennis elbow, or injury to the tendons of the outside of the elbow, commonly seen in racquet sports.

Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body.  The rotator cuff in the shoulder is made up of four muscles and tendons (subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor) that give the shoulder a wide range of motion.  Any swelling, inflammation, tearing, or bony changes around these tendons can cause pain when a person tries to move the arm in certain directions, as in a golf swing.

Wrist Sprain

A sprain is an injury to the ligaments around a joint.  Ligaments are strong, flexible fibers that hold bones together.  When a ligaments is stretched too far or tears, the joint becomes painful and swells.

Tendinitis

Tendinitis is inflammation, irritation, and swelling of a tendon, which is the fibrous structure that joins muscle to bone.  In many cases, tendinosis (tendon degeneration) is also present.

Breaks and Fractures

If more pressure is put on a bone than it can stand, it will split or break.  A break of any size is called a fractures.  A stress fracture is a hairline crack in the bone that develops because of repeated or prolonged forces against the bone.  The hamate bone is a small bone on the pinky side of the wrist.  The hamate has a small prominence called the hook, which juts into the palm.  The way most golfers grip their clubs puts the butt-end of the club right up against the hook of the hamate during the swing.

Sunburn

Apply generous amounts of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.  Pay special attention to your face, nose, ears, and arms.  The higher the SPF, the greater the protection provided.

  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure to allow penetration. Re-apply every 2 hours while you are outdoors.
  • Wear a hat.  There is also SPF clothing available.
  • Wear sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection.
  • Use a lip balm with sunscreen.

Prevention

Warming up,  stretching, using proper technique, strength training, and utilizing proper nutrition and hydration techniques can help prevent   golf –related injuries.

If you need assistance with a golf related injury, please reach out to your local SSM Health Sports Medicine Outreach Liaison at 833-776-7767. They will be able to help you navigate the healthcare system and ensure you are aligned with the most appropriate healthcare provider.

    Written by: Emma Coleman, MBA, ATC, SSM Health Sports Medicine Outreach Liaison

                                            Photo courtesy of: © creativecommonsstockphotos

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