Written by: Damien O’Sullivan, Sports Physical Therapist at the Raleigh Orthopaedic Performance Center in Cary
Golf is a sport with many health and well-being benefits. Over 60 million people of all ages play golf across the world. It offers the perfect low impact exercise which, as physical therapists, we encourage our patients to partake in this great pastime.
A standard 18 hole round amounting to 5-7 miles of walking, requiring between 8,000-12,000 steps and burning an average of 1,500. However, despite these many benefits, golf can be very demanding on the body. It requires the individual to display appropriate levels of functional strength, endurance, explosive power, flexibility and athleticism to perform an activity that generates some of the fastest club head and ball velocities of any sport.
During a conventional golf swing, an individual executes an asymmetrical rotational movement, involving a gentle back swing and then a powerful downswing in the opposite direction. Swinging a club in such a repetitive, asymmetrical and high velocity fashion can lead to the development of many different types of injuries. Of these, lower back injuries are by far the most common and account for roughly 30% of all golfing injuries.
One of the main reasons for such a high prevalence of low back injuries is due to either the lack of adequate spinal mobility and/or pelvic/trunk stability to withstand the natural biomechanical stresses that golf places on the body. A skilled sports physical therapist can screen an individual for weakness in such key regions and design an exercise program which will help prevent to development of such injuries in the future.
A well designed warm up program is also of critical importance in reducing a golfer’s frequency of injury. According to the AOSSM, up to 80 percent of golfers do not warm up sufficiently prior to playing a round. Individuals that did as little as a simple 10 min dynamic warm up “had less than half the incidence of injuries” when compared to their peers.
In conclusion, golf requires much more athletic prowess than many imagine and the consequences of this are that many people suffer injuries due to inadequate conditioning, lack of warm up, poor technique and/or playing habits. But with proper preventative measures the reduction in injuries can be significant.
Damien O’Sullivan, PT
Damien graduated with a Masters in Physical Therapy from Queen Margaret University in 2009. He developed and ran a highly successful Physical Therapy Clinic in Cork, Ireland. He started working at the Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic in 2016 and currently treats a variety of sports injuries and orthopaedic conditions.