Golf Injuries

Is golf a dangerous sport?

If you get a painful back, shoulder or elbow playing golf and it starts to occupy your head during your set up or back swing, the chances are you are not going to execute the shot they way you intended.  Golf injuries are more common than you think.  This frustration starts to impact on your scores and enjoyment.  Sometimes back pain may mean walking in after just 12, 15 or 16 holes.  Most importantly it stops the enjoyment at the 19th! You might even try using a buggy for a while, but now you have stopped walking so much your fitness deteriorates and the pain hasn’t resolved.  Where do you go next? The golf season is short in Scotland so we need to be on the course when the sky is blue and the rain has stopped.

The PGA may not look like it has much in common with professional rugby – but you may be surprised to learn that golfers are actually injured more often than rugby players.

It’s true.

In fact, 62% of amateurs and 85% of professionals will sustain a significant injury associated with playing golf.

And with a staggering 60 million golfers worldwide – that’s a whole lot of people getting injured.

The problem is, amateur golfers are usually out of shape or have poor swing mechanics, and professional golfers often overuse their muscles with frequent play.

Trauma to the lower back accounts for one third of all injuries and can happen to anyone regardless of age or ability.

There are a couple of logical reasons for this.

Firstly, a good golf swing requires significant club-head speed, which is something that is only achieved by applying a lot of torque (force) and torsion (twisting) throughout your lower back.

Secondly, compared to other sports, golf puts a lot of pressure on your spine. Consider the average golf swing produces a compression load on your back equal to 8 times your body weight, whereas a sport like running produces a compression load just 3 times your body weight.

Golfers experiencing low back pain typically have one of the following types of injuries:

  • Muscle Strain or Ligamentous Sprain
  • Disc Injury
  • Altered Joint Mechanics or Motor Control
  • Degenerative Arthritis
  • Bone Fracture


Other top golf injuries include trauma to the elbow, wrist/hand or shoulder. (So much for golf being a low-impact activity!)

It’s helpful to understand not only the types of golf injuries but also the main causes of injury which include:

  • Frequency of repetitive practice (overworked muscles)
  • Suboptimal swing mechanics
  • Inadequate warm-up routine
  • Poor overall physical conditioning

With the average recovery time lasting 2-4 weeks, addressing the main causes of a golf injury is well worth the effort. The good news is that these contributing factors are all modifiable.

SO, the question is – How can you enjoy the wonderful game of golf while reducing your risk of injury?

The simple answer is through targeted and routine strength and conditioning.  Golf requires strength, endurance, flexibility and explosive power in order to play the game well – and not hurt yourself in the process.

Physical conditioning routines designed specifically for golfers can help you stay on the green and out of pain.

And as a bonus, conditioning your body to avoid injury while playing golf also helps you improve your game.

An 11-week targeted conditioning program found participants:

  • Increased their clubhead speed by 7%
  • Improved their strength up to 56%
  • Improved their flexibility up to 39%
  • Increased their drive distance up to 15 yards with sustained accuracy

Whether you’re a casual golfer or serious about your game we can help you avoid injury and improve your skills. That’s why we’d like to share with you our free informational fact sheets on Golf Injury Prevention.

These fact sheets are completely free to download and are packed full of useful information to help you reduce your risk of injury while becoming a stronger golfer.

Download them here.

And be sure to check out our Facebook page [] where we’re posting fun, informative tips and tricks to help you stay injury-free – whatever you’re doing.

Steven is undoubtedly the best physiotherapist that I have ever been treated by! After fracturing my fibula in my left ankle in May 2013, I visited Steven after my consultation with the hospital.  Steven listened to what I had to say and reviewed the hospital records. He catered for my needs, provided treatment and established the root cause of my injury. The treatment provided was appropriate along with the recovery plan of exercises given to me by Steven to maximise my recovery period. My confidence increased due to the professional service that was being provided but most importantly my mental state changed as I knew I was in good hands. Steven had me back into shape (pain free) within 4-6 weeks, an outstanding achievement as I was expecting to be injured for months. As a scratch golfer it was imperative that I returned quickly to my sport but more importantly pain free.  Both objectives were met and I cannot recommend Steven highly enough. If you have a niggle, strain or an injury, please visit Steven at Optimal Physio. He will save you time, money and provide a service that will suit your needs.

Stuart Sangster
Cathkin Golf Club Member and Team player

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