With every sport comes the risk for
injury. Jeffrey S. Stephenson, M.D., sports
health physician with Norton Orthopedic
Specialists, treats athletes and has seen
it all. He shared the most common golfrelated
injuries and steps you can take to
play pain-free this season.
Lower Back Injuries
Hopefully this golf season, the only back that
needs fixing has to do with your backswing. The
most common golf-related injuries involve the
lower back. The back is more engaged in the game
than you might think. It comes into play during
the rotation in your golf swing.
“The transition when you take your arms back
to swing through – your power from your upper
body – is linked to your lower body through the
core musculature,” Dr. Stephenson said.
Injury prevention measures: Your core and
lower back work together to help you power
through your swing. That’s why it’s important to
build the foundation for a strong core.
“You can’t have a weak lower back and expect
to be able to play golf on a regular basis,” Dr.
He suggests a regimen of isometric exercises
to help strengthen the back, such as low back
extensions and crunches. An active warm-up
ahead of your round of golf also is very important.
“There are a lot of gripping mechanics that have
to happen to be able to get a golf club through
the ball and hit a ball consistently well, which
can cause elbow injuries,” Dr. Stephenson said.
“Golfer’s elbow” is a common overuse injury to
the soft tissue in the tendon or the medial elbow.
This injury can happen with repetitive swinging
of the golf club.
Injury prevention measures: Stretch the affected
tendons through simple wrist stretching exercises.
It’s also important to make sure you are swinging
“If you are concerned that you are having
consistent pain with your swing, it may be
worthwhile to have your swing checked out by a
golf professional,” Dr. Stephenson said. “If there
are certain mechanical issues with your swing, it
makes you more susceptible to injury.”
He says many elbow injuries are caused by
hitting the club into the ground, which can put
strain on the tendons.
Your golf swing could cause strains, pain and
inflammation in your shoulder. The most common
shoulder injury is rotator cuff impingement,
which is inflammation around the rotator cuff
tendons. The rotator cuff is made up of muscles
and tendons that help stabilize the ball and socket
joint of the shoulder.
“You can get inflammation around those
tendons, which causes an impingement and
can be painful,” Dr. Stephenson said.
Injury prevention measures: The best way to
prevent a golf-related shoulder injury is to establish
a good warm-up routine.
“Take the time to carefully swing through the
club, rather than stepping right onto the course
to begin your round,” Dr. Stephenson said.
Golfing and walking along uneven surfaces on
a golf course can pose a hazard to knees.
“Those potential hazards are the twisting and
turning that can lead to meniscus tears in the
knee,” Dr. Stephenson said.
Injury prevention measures: Be mindful of
where you are stepping on the course and make
sure you have good swing mechanics in place. If
you’re not so sure about your swing, enlist the
help of a golf professional to help you perfect