Spring is officially here! With the new season comes warmer weather, sunshine, and of course, golf season. While golf season typically means spending the day with a group of friends and more than likely some frustration, it can also mean injuries, pain, and discomfort for some golfers. Golfers put themselves in jeopardy of overusing particular muscles which can lead to injury on the course. As one of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Baden’s top physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinics, we strive to reduce and eliminate your pain and discomfort whether you’re at home, at work, or on the links. Pilates is a great solution for injury prevention and can even improve your golf game. In today’s blog, we want to outline all the steps you can implement through Pilates to avoid golf injury. These steps will help protect your body from common golf injuries related to golfers’ back, shoulders, knees, wrists, and elbows.

Adjust Your Swing

Since a great golf game begins with your swing, people tend to adjust its various aspects to compensate for poor power transfer, reduced strength, and inconsistencies in shot direction. Pilates increases your overall flexibility, strength, and balance to help you get more distance and power with every swing. Adjusting your swing to reduce injury starts with focusing on proper posture and stance so that your feet are shoulder-width apart and pointing slightly outward, your knees are slightly bent, and your spine relatively straight. Avoid the common golf mistake of hunching over your ball or rotating your back instead of your hips. Our Pilates sessions can help fix your poor golf posture by elongating and aligning your spine for more stability on the course. Doing Pilates can also increase your range of motion through your hips and shoulders to help you maximize balance alignment when rotating through your swing.

When swinging, make sure everything is smooth so you don’t place too much stress on any one muscle which can lead to injury. You should also try to avoid overswinging and swinging too hard or too fast. Instead, opt for a relaxed and focused approach to a nice and easy swing. Remember that Pilates is centred on enhancing your concentration through focused breathing that you can implement while golfing to avoid overswinging. The benefits of Pilates also include a smoother and more powerful swing that will help you stop the need for overswinging. Adjusting your swing in these simple ways not only reduces the strain on your back and neck but will also make your swing and overall golf game more consistent.

Warm Up and Start Slow

A proper warm-up before every round and tee shot is essential to avoiding injury on the course, yet some golfers often forget or undervalue this step in their game. We recommend showing up early for your tee time so you can do some exercise (like a brisk walk or jumping jacks) and stretching your wrists, arms, shoulders, legs, and back before your first shot of the day. You should also be taking some practice swings before the round begins to gradually increase your rotation. While it is important to do this before each round, don’t forget that you should be warming up at the tee of every hole on the course. You do not necessarily need to do a full warm-up each hole, but we suggest at least swinging your club a couple of times before you step up to the tee. Pilates is a great option to help learn how to increase your hip and torso flexibility and is something you can be doing in between rounds to lessen the risk of rotation injury. Consistently warming up your body on and off the course with Pilate exercises means you will be better at holding a position to play through a shot without causing injury.

It is also crucial that you start your golf season off slowly and limit to the number of rounds you play early on in the season. We understand that, since you’ve spent all winter dreaming about getting back on the course, you will probably want to play as much as possible come spring. However, you need to give your muscles time to condition themselves back into golfing that requires new movements, stress, and increased use. Instead of hitting the links every day, you should take breaks in between rounds and let your body rest. Pilates is a great option for non-golfing days as you can give your muscles a rest from repetitive movements and still work on improving your game. In fact, Pilates can actually help decrease your body fatigue which means you’ll be able to last longer on the course without feeling tired.

Stretch and Strengthen Your Muscles

It is not true to think that you need the strongest or biggest muscles to improve your golf game or gain shot distance. However, it is truer and more realistic to focus your time and energy on stretching and strengthening your muscles year-round. Using your muscles throughout the whole year, not just during golf season, reduces your risk of injury on and off the course. We suggest incorporating some Pilates into your yearly routine if you want to take your golf game to the next level and be able to play longer into the season. Pilates will help strengthen and condition your back muscles evenly, while also increasing abdominal strength and overall strength. Participating in our Pilates session during the off-season or between rounds will not only reduce your risk of injury but should also give you more yards for every shot on the course.

Invest in the Footwear and Golf Bag

Outside of actually walking and running, golf is one of the sports that involve the most walking which means proper footwear is crucial. It goes without saying, but golf shoes are a must on the course because their spikes help keep your feet planted during a shot and when walking the course. Golf shoes are worth the investment because they ensure that you actually hit the ball and prevent your knees, ankles, and legs from rotating during your swing which could possibly cause injury. If you are experiencing pain even when wearing golf shoes, you should consider replacing the stock insoles with more supportive orthotics for the ultimate support and comfort on the course.

The type of golf bag you are using also heavily impacts your comfort level on the course and can help prevent injury. Let’s say you keep every hole to four strokes (which is wishful thinking for some of us), then you will be putting down and picking up your bag over 70 times throughout one full round. That is asking a lot of your back that you will be bending every time you put down and pick up your bag. Add this to the tendency for golf bags to be unergonomic, which means a lot of discomforts, twisting, and adjusting while carrying your bag all round. We recommend investing in a pushcart for your golf bag to reduce the risk of severe back pain or discomfort. These carts will not only save your back and shoulders from the weight of your bag but will also save you energy from pushing or pulling your bag instead of carrying it. You can use this energy throughout your actual game which should lead to easier rounds and higher performance. If you are experiencing pain on the course, remember that on top of using the proper equipment you can also bring in a Pilates routine to help play without pain!

Following these steps and implementing Pilates sessions into your schedule will help reduce your risk of injury on and off the golf course. However, there is always still a chance that your golf season can be cut short with an injury. If you experience a golf injury, it is important to know how to manage your pain and discomfort so you can get back on the links as quickly as possible. At our Kitchener, Waterloo, and Baden facilities, our physiotherapist team is knowledgeable and trained to treat any injury you might suffer on the course. Contact us by phone at (519) 880-1733 or email waterloo@livewellhealthandphysiotherapy.com for more information or to schedule a free consultation.