Spring is officially here! And that means warmer weather, sunshine and of course, golf season. And while golf season typically means suntans, 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. But 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. And that's why this month's blog post is dedicated to sharing some helpful tips for preventing golf injuries. Continue reading below for some useful golf tips as well as instructions on what to do if you suffer a golf injury this season.
Adjust Your Swing
A great golf game starts with your swing. And most golf-related pain, discomfort and injuries also begins here. This is because people tend to adjust various aspects of their swing to compensate for poor power transfer, reduced strength (shorter drives), and balls that tend to veer to the left or right. So, if this sounds like you, we highly suggest you adjust your swing to reduce your risk of injury.
Start by focusing on your posture. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and angled, so they point slightly outward. Moving up your body, your knees should have a slight bend in them, while your spine should be relatively straight. The lower half of your body should be tilted ever-so-slightly forward, with most of the movement happening in your hips. The most common mistakes we see made with a golfer's posture is hunching over the ball or rotating their back rather than their hips. By correcting your stance, you'll not only reduce the strain on your back and neck, but you should also find your swing becomes more consistent— benefiting your overall game.
Once you've nailed down your posture, it's time to shift your focus to your swing. And when it comes to your swing and preventing golf injuries, there are two things you'll want to make sure you're doing. The first is making sure your swing is smooth. A great golf swing depends on multiple muscles of your body, rather than just one or two. And if you place too much stress on any one muscle during your swing, it could lead to injury. Your swing should be one smooth movement from your backswing to your follow-through. The second area to focus on when it comes to your swing is overswinging. We get that it’s easy to want to crush the ball off the first tee block when everyone’s watching, but swinging too hard or too fast can lead to some season-ending discomfort. Plus, try and think of a time when trying your hardest to crush a tee shot ever resulted in a perfect shot. Point proved. Instead, we recommend you relax and focus on making your swing nice and easy throughout.
Now that we’ve got your swing and posture perfected, it’s time to look at other aspects of your game that could cause you pain or discomfort. First up, is your warm-up, or for some golfers, lack thereof. Many golfers like to show up just in time for their tee time. And more than likely, this is leading to some pain or discomfort over the season. We recommend showing up 15-30 minutes early so that you have time for a proper warm-up. Your warm-up should consist of exercises like a brisk walk or jumping jacks, and you should also focus on stretching your wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders and back. Once you've warmed up and stretched and if you have time, you should also try and swing your club multiple times— increasing your rotation gradually. You can do this by finding a spot away from everything and everyone, or if your golf course has a driving range on-site, you may wish to purchase a small bag of balls and head over to the driving range. If you choose to go the second route, we still strongly recommend you start by just swinging your club, and then once you've done that long enough, start to hit balls— making sure not to use max force as you're only warming up.
Once you've started your round, it's essential to continue to warm up at the tee of each hole. You don't necessarily need to warm up for 15-30 minutes before each tee shot, but we suggest you swing the club 5-10 times before you step up to make your shot.
You've spent all winter dreaming about being on the course, and we get that now that you can, you want to play as much golf as possible. But if possible, limit the number of rounds you play early on in the season. It might just help you play more rounds of golf overall. This is because it gives your muscles time to condition themselves for the new movements, stress and increase in usage. This also includes working on your swing on rest days. Yes, practice makes perfect. But so does rest. So rather than playing four rounds a week and practicing your swing in between, mix in a day or two of rest to ensure your body doesn't get overworked and risk injury.
Stretch and Strengthen Muscles
You don't need the strongest or biggest muscles to have a good golf game, but you do need to stretch and strengthen them year-round to reduce your risk of injury. Muscles that are stronger or even just used year-round are proven to be less prone to injury. So, if you're looking to take your golf game to the next level or be able to play well into the fall, we suggest hitting the gym or investing in some home weights to strengthen and condition your body. This will not only reduce your risk of injury but should also increase your shot distance as well.
Wear Proper Footwear
We'd argue that there's no sport (besides walking and running) that involves more walking than the game of golf. And that's it's crucial to wear proper footwear— specifically golf shoes. You may think that golf shoes are just grippier, overpriced running shoes, but the spikes on golf shoes help keep your feet planted through every shot. This not only ensures you actually hit the ball but also prevents your knees, ankles and legs from rotating during your swing and possibly causing injury.
And if you own golf shoes and still experience foot pain, you may want to replace your stock insoles with something with a little more cushion or possibly an orthotic for ultimate support and comfort. If you’d like to learn more about how orthotics could improve your golf shoes, running shoes, work boots or other day-to-day footwear, check out our orthotics page for everything you need to know.
Invest in a Golf Bag Cart
Throughout a full round of golf, you can pick your bag up over 70 times. And that's if you keep every hole to 4 strokes. Wishful thinking, we know. But regardless, that's still a lot of bending for one back. Not to mention, golf bags aren't exactly the more ergonomic things to carry so you'll probably do a lot of twisting or bending while carrying it to make it more comfortable. And throughout just a single round of golf, that can cause some severe pain or discomfort in your back. This is why we recommend investing in a cart for your golf bag. They're relatively inexpensive and keep the weight and awkwardness of your golf bag off your back. They not only save your back and shoulders but with the energy you save by wheeling your bag rather than carrying it, they should also benefit your game.
What To Do If You Suffer An Injury
No matter how hard you try, there’s still a chance that your golf season can involve an injury. Whether it’s caused by hitting something with your club other than the ball, or possibly by your job or other daily activities, it’s important to know how to manage this pain and discomfort to ensure you get back on the links as quickly as possible. At our Kitchener and Baden locations, our teams are equipped with the knowledge and training to treat any injury you might suffer on the course. Using therapy methods like Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Massage Therapy and Acupuncture as well as therapy-focused products like Orthotics and braces, our team is dedicated to giving you the treatment and care that you need. Yes, some injuries and discomfort can be cured by simple rest and ice, but if you feel that your pain might not be temporary, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with a health care professional immediately. This will get you the proper diagnosis early on and ensure you don't do more damage. By receiving a professional diagnosis initially, you get on the road, or cart path, to recovery as quickly as possible. This not only eliminates your pain and discomfort much quicker but also gets you back on the course much faster too.
If you have any questions regarding anything discussed above or would like to talk about any pain or discomfort (golf-related or not) that you might be suffering from, we encourage you to reach out to us by phone, email or on social media.