Physical Therapy for Golfers

If you’re a golfer, perhaps you have your own definition of the four-letter word “golf.” According to Scottish-American championship pro golfer Tommy Armour

Golf is an awkward set of bodily contortions designed to produce a graceful result.”

But it’s these awkward bodily contortions that have caused many golfers to suffer from painful golf injuries. Besides moving your arms, a golf swing entails moving other segments, such as moving your legs and swinging your club around the core of your body, which has to remain stable. When any one of these segments fails, your swing can be compromised. Even worse, you can injure your body. If you’ve been sidelined from golf and are hurting from an injury, here’s what you need to know about some of the most common injuries and how physical therapy is effective in relieving pain.

Common Injuries from Playing Golf

  • The lower back is the most common area of the body that’s injured from golf. It’s no surprise that the back can easily suffer from playing golf when you consider that this sport involves a great deal of rotational stress on the back, in addition to bending over for four to five hours, repeatedly. For your back to be kept healthy, it’s important to do stretches and exercises that can strengthen the back.

  • Elbow injuries, such as tendonitis, come in second as the next most common golf injury. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop this condition.

  • Shoulder pain from playing golf is another typical injury. Shoulder injuries are usually rotator cuff injuries, which are caused by muscles and/or tendons tearing, which leads to severe pain. One of the main causes of shoulder pain is a bad swing.

  • Hip injuries—As the hip joint is much like the rotator cuff or shoulder joint, hip injuries are very similar to rotator cuff tears. That’s why it’s so important to warm up your muscles before playing golf as this makes the muscles that surround the hip joint stronger and more flexible.
film x-ray human’s pelvis and hip joints

Proper Golf Swing Techniques for Preventing Injuries

Because you use your entire body to execute a golf swing, a lot of stress is placed on the same joints, tendons, and muscles, which can eventually cause injuries. Therefore, to prevent injuries, it’s critical that you adjust your swing and understand the mechanics behind a good swing. For example:

  • Be sure your posture is correct. Your feet need to be spread apart, the width that’s between your shoulders, and slightly rotated outward, while your knees are somewhat bent. Tilt your trunk forward with your spine held straight
  • Don’t swing your club too fast or hard as this can cause stress on your joints. Instead, keep your swing consistent and easy.
  • Keep your swing smooth, realizing that a powerful swing comes from using all your muscle groups rather than a single area of your body. In many cases, injuries are the result of a golfer depending on just one part of the body, such as putting too much stress on the wrists, which can cause golfer’s elbow.

Correct Warm-ups Before Golfing

It’s critical that you do proper warm-up exercises before playing golf, so your heart beats faster and your body is better prepared for a game. Warm-ups may include:

  • Walking briskly
  • Jumping rope
  • Doing jumping jacks
  • Performing a few dynamic, but simple, static stretches, which should emphasize the torso, hamstring muscles, shoulder, and hip regions

Considerations and Warnings

  • Don’t hunch over the ball because this can cause back and neck strain.
  • Most of your movements in a golf swing should come from your hips.
  • It’s not unusual for new golfers to injure their necks because they aren’t accustomed to twisting their bodies so frequently.
  • Keep in mind that well-known pro golfers, Peter Jacobsen and Jack Nicklaus, have both had hip replacements.

How Physical Therapy Can Get You Back on the Golf Course

Medications and/or injections are often used for treating symptoms, but they don’t correct underlying issues. Fortunately, PT doctors are well trained and knowledgeable in knowing how to treat injuries so that you can get back on the golf course. These trained professionals know how to examine and evaluate motion deficits and impairments that can not only hinder your game but also affect your body, causing you to not participate in your normal, daily activities. Physical therapists devise noninvasive, individual treatments plans designed to correct deficits and impairments so that you’re able to play again, without pain, as quickly as possible.

You don’t have to continue to hurt from golfing injuries. Please email us at or call us at 570-208-2787 for a free screening. At Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab (CPTR), our golf experts are dedicated to getting golfers back on the course. If you want to lower your handicap and outdrive all your buddies by 30 yards off the tee, call us and start feeling better today!

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