Sports Kinesiologist and Nutrition Specialist Lance Geringer offers advice on how to avoid the most common golf injuries.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from golfers is how they’ve side lined from playing because of common golf injuries. Injuries that could easily be avoided.

We can all agree that the only thing worse than not being able to play golf is the pain from an injury reminding us that we can’t play.

Warm up to avoid injuries

A bit of stretching, a few warm-up swings and head to the tee. Sound familiar?

This minimal type of warm up puts your body at risk of injury since the muscles are still tight. Golfers will normally try to compensate for this tightness by overstretching or over swinging – putting a cold muscle at risk of strain.

The body is very tight at the start of any activity and a proper warm-up helps get the blood circulating throughout the body, helping to increase the flexibility of your muscles. The more flexible you are the better your golf swing will be – and the less chance there is that you’ll get injured.

What the professionals do

We’ve all watched LPGA professionals hit balls at the driving range before they tee off.

But what you don’t see is the length of time they’re warming up for.

I’ve personally seen top professionals at the driving range hitting balls for almost an hour before they go on the course.

While the majority of us don’t have the luxury of this type of time, a five to ten minute warm-up doesn’t do anything in the way of increasing your performance, but it does increase the risk of an injury.

How to warm-up properly

Before you hit balls, it’s important to stretch. You can even start by stretching as soon as you get out of bed.

Relax your hands when doing stretches with your golf club. Gripping the club too tight will contract the muscles and you won’t get a proper stretch. Move slowly into each stretch and hold the position for 20-30 seconds.

When your body feels like its warmed-up you can move on and start hitting some balls – but continue to stretch between your shots. If you still feel tight, continue with stretching.

What to do if an injury occurs

First, see your doctor right away.

Injuries can, and normally do, get worse if you’re not doing the right things to help rehabilitate them as soon as possible.

Having your doctor diagnose the injury does two things:
1. Confirms if the injury is severe or not
2. The doctor will prescribe a course of action that starts the rehabilitation process

Next: R.I.C.E. That stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

The first 48 hours of any injury is when inflammation occurs. Ice is one of the best ways to help minimise this. It also numbs the area which reduces the pain caused by any swelling.

How to ice an injury:

Put some ice in a bag with a cloth wrapped around it

  1. Apply directly to the elevated area for 15-20 minutes
  2. Keep moving it around the area
  3. Remove and let the area warm up again - usually 45 minutes to an hour
  4. Keep repeating until you see your doctor

The next biggest problem I encounter is asking golfers to stop playing for a while.

Normally, an injury will be aggravated – and potentially worsened – by continuing to play. Rest is essential for the rehabilitation of an injury; the amount of rest needed is based on the severity of the injury.

No one wants to take time off, and we’ll usually try to minimise this by saying, “I’m feeling better.”

But keep this in mind: If a doctor says to take six weeks off and you feel better after four weeks, this doesn’t mean you’re healed. It means that the pain you’ve had is gone after four weeks and that the rehabilitation process is working.

If you decide to play again and the area is re-injured, that’s potentially another four to six weeks off and the original six weeks has now become up to 12. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve seen this!

Your golf injury is healed, you’re ready to play again

Coming back from an injury is also about being smart.

You haven’t played for a while and your muscles will be weak and tight. It’s better to get out to the driving range and hit a few balls to start getting yourself back into shape. This is the time when you shouldn’t overdo it, since strengthening weak muscles can take up to six to eight weeks.

My tips to get you back into playing shape:

  1. The person helping you with rehabilitation for your injury will prescribe exercises to help strengthen the area. Make sure you do them!
  2. Before you play, get to the driving range and build up your strength and the amount of balls you hit slowly and steadily. If you feel any soreness – stop!
  3. Everyone at one time or another can get an injury, so take some extra time and warm-up properly. Doing some basic stretching and hitting a bucket of balls should always be part of your warm-up. Your body will thank you – and so will your game!