Shoulder Discomfort Ranks Among Common Golf Injuries
August 12, 2004
By Jessica Ross for Shoulder1
Though perhaps not as physically demanding as football, hockey or basketball, the sport of golf is not without threat of injury. In general, golfers are less likely to experience single trauma events, but instead are more at risk for chronic musculoskeletal injuries, particularly in the back and shoulders. Such injuries often develop from overuse or placing repetitive strain on the shoulders or back through improper form.
One of the most prevalent golf-related injuries, among both professionals and amateurs, is lower back pain. Most experts believe that lower back pain among golfers generally results from maintaining poor form throughout their swing. The motion of the golf swing places a large amount of pressure on the vertebrae and surrounding muscles, and repeated strain can yield long-term damage. Specifically, a 2004 study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that lower back pain was often associated with golfers who curtailed their lead hip rotation and lumbar (lower) spine extension – more commonly referred to as not following through on a swing. (Vad VB, et al, 2004) Other potential sources for lower back pain include the tendency to shift body weight onto the inner edge of the foot during the swing, and carrying a golf bag through the course. These injuries are best prevented by stretching before play begins, maintaining the correct form on the golf course, and by building up muscle strength and flexibility through a regular exercise regimen.
Yet another frequent physical complaint among golfers is injury of the shoulder and neck area. Similarly to golf-induced lower back pain, discomfort of the shoulder and neck are often the result of an improper swing, overuse, or inadequate muscle strength and flexibility. The lead shoulder (left in a right-handed golfer, right for the left-handed golfer) is subjected to the most stress during the swing, so it is not uncommon for golfers to develop rotator cuff tears, or other problems in the shoulder blade such as impingement or arthrosis (joint disease). There is some suggestion that most shoulder injuries are actually due to an excessive swing, and that in particular an exaggerated backswing is often the source of the problem. In addition to correcting any problems in form, golfers should always stretch before play to help prevent such shoulder injuries. A regular exercise regimen to build muscle strength and flexibility is also beneficial.
In general, injuries incurred by golfers, whether in the back, shoulder, or even wrists or knees, are highly preventable. Simply by maintaining attention to proper form, stretching before play, and engaging in regular exercise, most golfing injuries are avoidable.
Last updated: 12-Aug-04