Background/Statistics on Golf Injuries
Although golf is a non-contact sport, research of over 8.6 million sports related injuries indicates that golf injuries are more commonly reported than injuries related to rugby, ice hockey and even combative sports such as boxing. Reports of injuries show that 67.7% of all golfers report a golf specific injury throughout their lifetime1. These injuries often carry into our normal daily activities such as walking and sitting2. Even with the amount of reported golf injuries, the health benefits of playing golf outweigh the potential health risks associated with the sport1. In many cases, reported injuries can be prevented through a proper golf warm up.
In this blog post we are going to talk about:
- The most common injury reported by golfers
- The anatomy of the golf swing
- How warming up can prepare the body to swing the golf club
- Explain how warming up properly can reduce our risk of injury
Anatomy of the Golf Swing
It is estimated that of all reported injuries that golfers experience, low back pain is the most common. 34% of all golf injuries are reported to be related to the lower back. Many low back injuries in golf can be prevented by making sure the body is moving properly during our golf swing1. Surprisingly, many golf related back injuries are not caused by a dysfunction in the back. The golf swing requires a great amount of rotation in many different parts of the body. Most of this rotation comes from our hips. In golf, if our hips are not rotating through the swing, our low back is going to have to compensate2. In the pictures below, it is easy to see where our body should be rotating from. Each of our hips are able to rotate almost 90 degrees, while each segment of our low back can only rotate 5 degrees!
Knowing where rotation in the golf swing is coming from is essential to understanding how a proper warm-up can prevent low back pain in golfers. The hips are the “driver” of the golf swing, as stated before, if the hips are not moving properly, our low back has to work harder in order to provide enough rotation for us to hit a golf ball. Increasing rotation in our low back beyond the normal 5 degrees of motion puts extreme stress on our lower back. The extreme stress placed on our low back causes breakdown of structures that make up the integrity of our low back such as our discs, ligaments and even bones.
So how does this all relate to the importance of a warm-up?
A good warm up will do many things for our body before we participate in any sport.
One thing a proper warm up will do for our body is increase blood flow to all of our muscles in the body3. Along with increasing blood flow to our body, a proper warm-up prepares our muscles to move in a way specific to our sport. If the muscles and joints in our body are not prepared to move properly, there risk of injury is greater. Golf is an explosive sport and requires a lot of moving pieces, therefore introducing the body to these movements prior to teeing off is essential in preventing any sport related injury. In the example of golf, waking the muscles around the hips up will encourage you to use them throughout your round3. Another major purpose to a tee box warm up includes stretching the musculature of the hip. As mentioned before, the hips are our major rotators in our body. If some of the muscles in the front of the hip are not moving as well as we would like them to, the hips will not be able to rotate to their potential. This will cause unneeded stress on the low back. Stretching of the hips should occur more than just prior to starting a round. Many golfers who are using carts are at risk for developing tight hips during the round due to sitting3.
Summing-Up the Importance of a Good Warm-up
As you can see, a proper warm up prior to golfing can reduce the risk of injury, especially in our low back. In many cases, back injuries in golf are not a result of a back related issue but can stem from an inability of the hips to allow for the rotation and explosion needed in a golf swing. Warming up will increase blood flow to our muscles and prepare them for movement while also allowing our joints to move in a proper flow with each other and limit compensation especially in the low back.
What do I do from here?
If you are interested in seeing how you can benefit from a tee box warm up or are curious about how to perform a proper pre round warm up take a look at the link below! For a limited time, Buffalo Rehab Group is offering a free 20 minute Discovery Visit for golfers to learn about:
How limitations in your hips may lead to or cause your back pain.
How implementing a simple warm up can reduce or prevent injuries.
How your body’s potential can be maximized to shed a few strokes on the golf course.
Sports Injury Statistics Suggest: Golf is More Dangerous than Rugby. Golfsupport Blog. https://golfsupport.com/blog/sports-related-injuries-golf-more-dangerous-than-rugby/. Published July 18, 2018. Accessed June 9, 2019.
Reinhardt G. The Role of Decreased Hip IR as a Cause of Low Back Pain in a Golfer: a Case Report. HSS J. 2013;9(3):278–283. doi:10.1007/s11420-013-9353-9.
Sherman, C. A., & Finch, C. F. (2000). Preventing injuries to competitive and recreational adult golfers: what is the evidence?. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 3(1), 65-78.