At first glance, golf may not appear to be a dangerous sport, but its effects on your body can be as severe as many full contact activities. The majority of golfers experience pain and stiffness at some point in their season, with less experienced golfers more prone to serious injury. Over 80% of golf injuries are caused by overuse. Golfers with improper biomechanics are at a greater risk for injury, as wear and tear on joints and tissues becomes magnified. A chiropractor can identify biomechanical deficits that may make you susceptible to injury, and has the tools to treat the resulting pain or stiffness that can accompany these deficits.
Only 17% of golf injuries are caused by a single event, meaning that the remaining 83% of injuries are a result of overuse. Playing with improper mechanics may not cause damage over a single round of golf, but the average golfer plays 37 rounds per season. Over this type of volume, small flaws in mechanics can become problematic, wearing on joints and tissues that forced to compensate for an abnormal stance or swing. The low back, elbows, and wrists are under significant stress during a golf swing, and are the areas most likely to break down over time.
Low back pain is a common complaint among golfers. In many instances, this can be the result of undue stress placed on the low back from flawed biomechanics. Flat feet, for example, cause internal rotation at the hips, which may decrease low back stability. Weak glutes or lumbar paraspinal muscles may not have enough endurance for a full round of golf, at which point the load placed on your low back falls entirely on your joints, discs, and ligaments. These structures cannot endure as much strain as the muscles, and can easily become injured.
There are a variety of treatments that can reduce pain and stiffness and help improve your range of motion, and in turn, your swing. Biomechanical issues can be the result of tight or tender muscles. Muscular adhesions that can reduce your range of motion can be treated with Active Release Technique, Graston, or intramuscular stimulation (IMS). Loosening up the shoulder capsule and rotator cuff, for example, can help ensure a more fluid swing.
Specific strengthening exercises from a physiotherapist can also be used help increase endurance in the low back, glutes, and other areas that are stressed during a round of golf, and adjustments can be used to restore full range of motion in the lumbar spine. Whether you are experiencing pain or not, it’s a good idea to get assessed by a chiropractor or physiotherapist to ensure that your form will not lead to issues down the road.