Golf is a sport with many health and wellbeing benefits. A reported 60 million people of all ages play golf across the world, sometimes into their 80s and 90s. The health benefits have been widely reported in recent years with an 18 hole round amounting to 6-8 km of walking, requiring over 8,000-12,000 steps and a calorie burn of 1,500.
However, golf can be very demanding; requiring strength, endurance, explosive power, flexibility and athletic ability to perform a movement that produces some of the fastest club head and ball speeds of any sport.
The effect of these repeated large forces on the body can lead to many different types of injuries, which are often specific to certain areas and sides of the body in golfers, depending on their lead side. Much research has been done on the types and likelihood of injuries experienced by golfers with the main areas of the body prone to injury being;
- The lower back,
- The neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist
- The Hips
Lower back injuries account for roughly 30% of all golfing injuries, with poor technique and lack of flexibility in the mid spine and hips possible causes. Often it presents as an aching and discomfort on moving into certain positions and doing certain activities. However, the soreness and stiffness that people often present with is called ‘non specific’ as it is not usually clear which structure is causing the problem/pain.
Golf requires much more athletic ability than many imagine and the consequences of this mean many people suffer injuries through poor general conditioning, lack of warm up, poor technique and practice and playing habits. Muscles provide active support for the joints, and ligaments and discs provide passive support. The nervous system controls movement, coordination and protective mechanisms. Failure of either of these systems will increase the risk of injury.
There are a number of ways a chiropractor can treat the golfer and enhance his golf experience, including:
- Spine, neck and shoulder adjustments
- Preventative swing advice
- Rehabilitation exercises
Five important things you can do to prevent injuries in golf:
- Improve your core stability, the support for your spine. You should not try and improve your flexibility in the spine through general stretching, that is likely to lead to injury. The spine is a chain of joints, or flexible segments. If you do a general stretch you are more likely to move the most flexible part of your spine the most and the stiffest part will move the least, and if you keep doing that you will make some parts of your spine unstable, or even injure those parts in the process.
- Instead, you need to improve the flexibility in your hips and shoulders, and increase the stability of the spine.
- Adopt the right posture
- Balance training can be done through a series of balance exercises. Coordination can also be improved by practicing certain tasks specific to golf.
- Strength and athleticism can only be improved whilst the core is stable, otherwise you are likely to injure yourself.
A Chiropractor can give you strategies and advice with proactive treatment that can serve as the foundation for realising your full potential on the golf course while offering the opportunity of playing your best golf safely and injury-free for an entire lifetime.