Ignoring Pain Could End Up Keeping Golfers Off the Course

Author: Leslie Toldo

Summer may start winding down in August, but golf season is still in full swing. As a matter of fact, August is National Golf Month.  It makes a lot of sense to devote an entire month to the game, considering the Professional Golf Association (PGA) estimates more than 41 million Americans tee it up each year.

Golf seems like a tame sport until you consider another statistic.  According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, more than 30,000 Americans go to emergency rooms with golf-related injuries every year.  That is just emergency room visits. Countless more golfers suffer less serious, but sometimes chronic, injuries.

The most common golf injuries seen at McLaren Flint’s outpatient physical therapy and sports medicine clinics are back pain and tendon injuries to the elbow, wrist, and shoulder. 

“In the clinic, we usually do not see these injuries until 4 to 6 weeks after the pain starts,” said McLaren physical therapist Jeff Schultz. “The sooner these injuries are addressed, the better the chance for a swift recovery.”

Golf injuries can be serious enough to eventually interfere with basic, everyday activities like getting dressed, grooming, and sleeping.  Golfers should never wait until their suffering gets this bad.

“Many golf injuries are repetitive or overuse injuries. If a golfer has pain that persists more than 2 to 3 days after a round, they should see their doctor,” Schultz said. 

A doctor may recommend taking a little time off to rest and recover or could even write a referral for physical therapy.  If a golfer has tendinosis a physical therapist can play a pivotal role in their recovery.  Tendinosis is the degeneration of collagen fibers that make up the tendon. 

“Tendinosis can ruin an entire season. The recovery can take several months,” Schultz said. “Physical therapy should begin as soon as possible.  The sooner it can be identified, the better the chance golfers can resume playing. “

Getting back in the game is just one of the goals of physical therapy.  A huge part of what physical therapists do is geared at educating patients who are trying to get back to anything from basic activities to high-level sports. 

“Physical therapists are trained in helping people return to normal function,” Schultz said. “For golfers, that will most likely mean designing an exercise program focused on range of motion, strength, stretching, proper warm-up, and functional mobility. This can help them become better players.”

This exercise program will not only help a golfer get stronger, but it could also prevent future injury.  One key component to preventing overuse injuries is to mix it up with different activities, especially during the off-season.

“Weightlifting could help strengthen the core, as well as the upper and lower extremities, all of which are used during the golf swing,” Schultz said. “Cardio can help with endurance for long or even multiple rounds. Yoga class benefits flexibility, which golfers need to complete the dynamic nature of the golf swing. “

At the end of the day, if you golf regularly and experience pain, talk to your doctor about whether physical therapy might be right for you.   To connect with a McLaren Flint physical therapist, visit the location nearest you at this link.