How Do the Ryder Cup Players Keep Going Without Injury?



What Can Go Wrong When Playing Golf

An amateur golfer can swing a golf club 90 miles per hour. If you think about how you swing and do it correctly – see above, then you will not injure yourself, however, if you repeatedly swing incorrectly you will put huge strain on your joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. These soft tissue injuries can take 6 -8 weeks to resolve. Read my previous post regarding healing times … how many of you actually rest for this period of time when you feel pain or discomfort? The plain truth is that if you don’t then your injury can become chronic, which means that big clusters of fibrous tissue collect in the injured area and prevent you from using the arm or leg as you should – so you can create further problems because you change your swing to avoid pain.

  1. Low back pain is the most common complaint for golfers.

This is because often inexperienced golfers ‘turn out’ the back foot and this allows over rotation of the low back. Professionals load their spines significantly less than amateur golfers, however, who also experience too much side bend, shearing from front to back and compressive forces downwards. If you start to play golf when you retire, you are already stiffer than you were and the lumbo-pelvic area does not rotate as freely as when you were younger. To compensate, you turn that back foot out too much. You can bend awkwardly when picking up the ball; you can also twist when carrying your golf bag or pulling a trolley.

  1. Elbow pain is the second most common complaint from amateur golfers.


Why this occurs is because the forward elbow bends when you swing instead of remaining straight. This means that the bent elbow will snap into extension (straighten) when you hit the ball. Do this enough times and you will develop bursitis – an inflammation of the small cushion that lies at the back of the elbow or tendonitis – golfers elbow, which is pain in the side of the elbow of the little finger – at the medial epicondyle – see below. If you play 18 holes of golf, the irritation could occur hundreds of times … you need to ensure that you focus on keeping the forward elbow as straight as you can.


To help avoid bending the elbow, try taping across the forward elbow then if you bend it, the sticky tape will pull the skin and remind you that you have bent your elbow.

  1. Wrist pain can be caused by tendonitis, which is irritation and swelling of the tunnel through which the tendons of the thumb pass. The more you grip with the fingers the worse the pain becomes and if you repeatedly hit your ball into the rough or sand, the club head rapidly decelerates relative to your grip and this ‘jams’ the wrist, eventually giving pain.


Wrist pain can also be caused by hitting the ground. The small bones in the wrist can fracture – imagine a small bone plus a 90 mph swing impacting on hard ground – the hand snaps back and a fracture can occur. This will mean certain 6 weeks in plaster and sometimes the bones in the wrist don’t heal properly. Hence you need to be careful about how you hold your wrist to keep stability in a delicate area.

It has been reported that nearly 50% of golfers will eventually suffer a golf-related injury. We suggest you come in to see us so we can watch how you swing and correct any areas of stiffness so that you are less likely to suffer! We will check your foot mobility and positioning, your lumbopelvic function, your mid thoracic mobility (between your shoulders – gets tight when sitting in an office all day), your elbow movement, your neck and shoulder mobility. Then when you try to improve your swing, you will do so knowing that you are less likely to injure yourself.