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Danny Waugh

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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!

weekend-warrior-injury

How to Avoid Weekend Warrior Injuries

By | Prevention | No Comments

So many people have schedules filled to the brim with full-time work, family duties, household responsibilities, and other commitments, so squeezing in regular recreational activities can be a real challenge. Many of us have become weekend warriors, managing to carve out some time to recreate on Saturdays and Sundays. As a result, we tend to push our activities to the limit in hopes of making the best of them. The problem is the remaining five days a week we spend sitting at a desk or in a car commuting back and forth to work or our kids’ activities. Despite this imbalanced schedule,  we still expect our bodies to work in the same way they did when we were younger. Unfortunately, this type of schedule can increase our risk of injury.

There are a few things that you can do every day that can help to minimize your injury risk and help prepare your body and its tissues to better manage the occasional sport-related stress you place on it.

1. Warm up right.

When it comes to warming up our bodies before activity, it seems the older we get the lazier or more complacent we become. For example, we might get to the rink strap on the pads and jump into a game and expect our bodies to hold up. Or we decide to go for a run and start at race pace and wonder why our feet or knees hurt after the first kilometre.

There are many benefits to a proper warm-up that can help our body prepare to the needed workload.

These include:

  • Improving blood flow to working muscles, which allows them to be more pliable and accepting for stretch or loading.
  • Gradually increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, minimizing the chance of getting a rapid spike.
  • Improving oxygen and nutrient transport to the muscles and joints.
  • Improving neuromuscular efficiency and coordination.
  • Mentally preparing you for the upcoming task and increasing your focus.

A good warm-up should consist of a minimum of 10-15 minutes of dynamic movements involving the muscles you will be using for the upcoming activity.A good resource to use is the FIFA11+ warm-up routine, which has strong support for injury prevention behind its program. If you’re unsure about which movements should be included, speak with a healthcare practitioner, kinesiologist, or personal trainer—like our experts at Active Sport Physiotherapy Clinic—to help design something specifically for you. 

2. Maintain a regular stretching and mobility routine at home.

Stretching doesn’t have long, drawn-out process. It can be as simple as five to 10 minutes each morning to get your body prepared to move for the day. Target major muscle groups and movement patterns that you will be using during the day, as well as muscle groups that may get neglected given your work environment. For example, those of us who spend the majority of the day in a seated position should look to stretch the hip flexors and lumbar spine to keep them from shortening over time.

3. Cool down.

It’s important to cool your body down after you’ve engaged in an activity. This doesn’t mean cool off the body with a cold adult beverage after the game (though that does sound good, doesn’t it?). Take the time after a workout to gently stretch the major muscles you used during your workout or activity.

A cool down period helps to:

  • Prevent blood pooling in the extremities.
  • Promote clearance of lactic acid from the muscles.
  • Restore your regular heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.

4. Stay on the move.

It’s important you take the time to get up and move throughout your day. Recommended guidelines suggest that you should stand up at least once per hour if working in a seated position. This can be as simple as getting up for a drink of water or going to the bathroom. But remember, the more you move, the better your body will feel. Having regular bouts of activity throughout your day will help keep your muscles from adapting a shortened position and improve circulation into your lower extremity.

So there you have it, weekend warrior. You may not have the chance to engage in high-energy activity throughout the week but by staying active and healthy, taking the proper precautions to keep your body prepared to handle the stresses you place on it on the weekend, you’ll minimize the risk of injury. If you have any questions about what you can do to prevent injuries, reach out to us by email here or give us a call at 613-936-0676. We’re happy to help!