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April 2018

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Get a Grip on Common Golf Injuries

By | Golf, Prevention | No Comments

It’s that time of the year again. The Masters Tournament has wrapped and some of us are dusting off our clubs in anticipation of a sunny, golf-filled summer. I thought this would be the perfect occasion to talk about common golf injuries—how they happen and what you can do to prevent them.

On the surface, golf might seem like an injury-less sport but statistics show that 1 in 4 golfers who tee up in North America play with some type of injury. Golfers over the age of 50 have a much higher likelihood of injury. Even PGA tour professionals are at risk—they average two injuries per year.

So why do golfers get hurt?

When it comes to injuries, the biggest factor is the ability for tissues in the body to withstand the forces applied to them. Factors such as age, gender, and conditioning play a big part in how the tissues handle this force. Injuries come when tissues can’t withstand the force and break down.

You can develop an injury from a single traumatic force or from repetitive movement (accumulation of force). When it comes to the golf swing, both these instances are possible.

When it comes to a golfer’s body, there are a few common areas where damage occurs: the lower back, the shoulders, and the upper arm (wrists and elbows). Low back injuries are prevalent across all golfers, whereas shoulder injuries are the second most common injury for males; for females, the secondary injuries are to the wrists and elbows.

Here’s a rundown on what’s happening when you hurt yourself playing golf:

Low Back

The rotational stress of the golf swing puts the small joints, discs and muscles of the back under considerable loads that can often lead to failure. Combine that with the posture of leaning over your club, and the repetition that a round or practice session requires, and it’s not hard to understand why this is the most common area of injury. The best ways to minimize stress through your low back is to make sure to distribute the rotational stress through your legs, hips, pelvis, low back, upper back and neck. When one area doesn’t move well, the other areas have to pick up the slack. Most often, stiffness occurs in the hips and thoracic spine. When these two areas don’t rotate well, it means that your body will try to create as much rotation from your lumbar spine as possible and you’ll get hurt.  

To prevent this, develop an exercise program that will improve the areas that are stiff in rotation and strengthen the core and back muscles to help your low back take on those loads. Work on a proper setup posture to achieve a neutral spine position before your swing, then work to maintain that spine position throughout your swing.

Shoulders

The muscles of your rotator cuff stay active throughout your golf swing, but where they are put under the most stress is at the top of your backswing and through impact. Swing plane and proper trunk rotation during your backswing are very important in minimizing this stress. The more rotation your body can comfortably go through in your backswing, the less reaching your shoulders need to do.

There are ways to minimize stress on your shoulder: improve the rotational capability and force production through your spine and/or take a shorter backswing. Many of us try to generate force through impact solely through our arms and this is when a shoulder injury. Working on the length of your backswing to match your body’s ability, perfecting your swing sequence, and exercising your trunk to improve rotation should be your priority if you have persistent shoulder problems persist.

Wrists/Elbows

Very similar to the shoulders, issues for your wrists and elbows come from your swing sequence and where you generate power in the swing. Golfers who try to set up power with their arms only are more likely to experience injury in these areas. Females tend to have a slightly higher incidence in the wrist and elbows (versus the shoulders) because they have smaller bone structure and less muscle mass in these areas. That means there’s less adaptability to stress through impact.  

Equipment can also play a big role for injuries. Make sure 1) your clubs are the right size and weight for your body and strength, 2) your grips on your clubs fit your hand size 3) your grips are not worn so there is no excess grip pressure are all ways to reduce arm stress.   

Working on your swing sequence as to not cast the club or release the hands too early can also minimize stress on the wrist and reduce the chance of hitting a shot fat.

The bottom line

The biggest way to help minimize your risk of injury on the golf course is to make sure you take the proper amount of time to do a warm-up. Increase the blood flow into the muscles you will be using for the swing, make sure your body feels supple and is moving well prior to repeated swings and practice.

 

Need help with your swing? Contact us to find out more about our mobile biomechanical analysis lab. We can analyze your movement, identify technique errors and help you avoid injury!

injury-prevention

5 Common Spring Injuries…and How to Avoid Them

By | Physiotherapy, Prevention | No Comments

Spring is now in motion and as the temperatures start to rise, we all want to start moving a little more. We tend to want to dive into spring cleaning, take up running or biking, head to the golf range to drive balls and start throwing to get our arms ready for ball season.

This invigorating time also coincides with an increase of visitors to the clinic. Typically, this is when I start seeing more people who show up with predictable problems:

  • Our patients  with lower back issues are usually those who had an ambitious session of cleaning out the garage or basement or shed
  • Those with knee problems typically jumped back into running to quickly
  • People with lower back, wrist or elbow pain are often the golfers who couldn’t wait to get swinging
  • Sufferers of shoulder pain typically have been throwing too hard, too fast and too soon and show up with rotator cuff irritations

Unless you’ve been very active all winter, start all your spring activity slowly and deliberately over several days. Let the body adapt to the increase in movement and work.  Your muscles and joints will not cooperate if you jump in cold turkey at high intensity and for long periods. Your joints will get stiffer and so will your muscle—the perfect recipe for an injury.

Follow our tips to avoid hurting your body:

For spring cleaning

Start with light objects earlier in the day to warm up. Let your body get used to walking, squatting repetitively and lifting.  Your muscles and joints will loosen up and will be able to take on bigger tasks and loads as the day progresses—without the risk of overuse or sudden injury.

For running

When the weather warms up, the pavement dries out and the birds start singing, it’s as if you’ve been given a natural invitation to start running. But if you start too quickly and go too far, you will set yourself up for shin splints, knee pain, calf and achilles tendonitis. The best way to avoid these injuries is to alternate between walking and running, and to keep your distance low for the first few weeks.  Walking 2 minutes and running 30 seconds is a very good way to getting accustomed to your “new” running legs. Over the following three weeks, you can increase the running time and decrease the walking time. Looking for a good running program? We like this one, from The Running Clinic.

For biking 

When you start riding your bike in the spring—whether it’s a road, mountain or upright bike— the first kilometres will result in a sore buttock, and generalized soreness to your neck, shoulders and back. At the beginning of your season, avoid hills, get used to a regular cadence, and only ramp up the distance travelled once your body is well adjusted. If you’re new to cycling, you’ll find a good primer for beginners here.

For golfing

When springtime arrives, there’s a strong pull to get to the golf course to swing some clubs.  Having good game when it comes to golf means consistency: same velocity, same angles, same technique, same arc of swing. But this consistency can lead to overuse injuries. So before you jump onto the course, make sure your lower extremities are flexible or else your low back spine will take the torque and stress at the end of your swing. Also, for the first few weeks of play, avoid your full swing. You need to make sure you build up your functional range before pushing the depth of your swing. Check out this slideshow of some of the best exercises that can help improve your game.

For throwing

Seasonal athletes like baseball or football players are definitely at risk for injuries when it’s time to ball-up!  If you’re tempted to try a deep throw right off the bat, know that you’re guaranteeing yourself a trip to the physiotherapy clinic. Most throwing injuries are rotator cuff related. The solution is simple:  make sure you return to throwing gradually over several weeks. Engage in a resisted shoulder workout program. Rest properly between throwing sessions. And finally, adjust the intensity of the game to YOUR capacity. (Remember, you’re not playing in the World Series!)  If you’re looking to get ready balling, check out this off-season program that will help

 

We leave you with these words of wisdom (and common sense): An ounce of prevention goes a long way to ensure a long and enjoyable lifestyle for the whole summer season.  Enjoy!

Don’t forget that we offer biomechanical analysis services at our clinic. If you’d like us to assess your golfing, running or swimming technique with our mobile lab, let us know. We can help you perfect your form and avoid injuries! Get in touch to find out more!