Let’s discuss what happens when you have an injury in relation to your golf swing. An injury to your body like a pulled muscle, strained tendon, or something as minimal as a hangnail can affect your swing. “How?” you ask. Your body is a finely tuned machine. This fined tune piece of equipment is also a great mechanism of compensation. What do I mean?
If you have a little “pull” of a muscle, a compensation pattern occurs in the body. This small compensation by your body has an affect on your golf swing. It might be so minimal that you don’t even feel it, but your shots and scores show it. So what are you to do? Well, the obvious answer is to do everything to prevent an injury from occurring. We will discuss this point at the end of the article. At this time let us move on to answering the questions above.
Injuries: The Why’s, What’s, and How’s
First off, realize that the majority of research I have read indicates that over 50% of recreational golfers will incur a golf-related injury during their playing career. Think about it. In your foursome you played with over the weekend, at least two of you will come up lame. Keep that idea in mind as we move to other statistics.
The common injuries in golfers are low back, wrist, and shoulder. A list I imagine most of you could probably have predicted.
How do these injuries to your low back, wrist, or shoulder occur?
The answer is twofold. There are two different types of injuries when it comes to golf or any other sport. Injuries are classified as either acute or chronic.
An acute injury is an injury that is the direct result of an external force at a specific point in time.
Let me explain. If you were walking down the street and fell, breaking your ankle, that type of injury is an acute injury. The injury occurred as a result of an external force (falling on concrete) at a specific point in time (walking down the street). The majority of golf injuries do not fall into the acute injury category. An occasional wrist injury can be an acute injury if you hit, say, a tree root in the downswing. Or maybe you trip while walking on the course and sprain your ankle. These are acute-type golf injuries. They are few and far between when discussing golf injuries in general.
The second type of injury category is what we call chronic injuries. Chronic injuries occur over time and are the most common type of injury in golf. How do chronic injuries occur? Probably the easiest way to explain it is the following: after time the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the body become tired. Once they become tired, fatigue sets in, and when your brain tells the body to swing that club and it’s tired, what do you think is going to happen? Over time those muscles will get to a point of such fatigue that on one swing or in one round, the body gives up and something gets pulled, strained, or inflamed. At that point you now have a chronic golf injury. It’s pretty simple when you think of the whole process of a golf swing.
A golf swing is a repetitive movement that places stresses on the same muscles over and over again. As a result, those muscles get tired. And you now know what eventually happens to those muscles when they get tired; they break down and become injured!
So the next question is: how can you prevent chronic injuries in golf? A couple viable answers exist. Probably the easiest way to combat chronic golf injuries is not to play. What do you mean not play! Simple, if you do not play a lot of golf, then the stresses you place on your body will be less than playing 36 each weekend. So your body will not get as tired, and your chances of a chronic golf injury are less.
The other option (which I imagine is the route most of you reading this article would like to take) is to develop what I term “golf strength.” “Golf strength” is developing the body in a manner that creates a foundation to support your swing. And when we talk about foundation, we are talking about the areas of flexibility, balance, strength, endurance, and power in a manner that assists you in maintaining the correct swing mechanics swing to swing.
The development of “golf strength” will limit (not eliminate) the possibility of injury and enhance your golf swing. Again, if your body can’t support the movement you are asking it to do, the brain will still make your body do it, but eventually the body will “put on the brakes” and come up injured.