Don’t let early-season injuries ruin the rest of your summer. Here’s what to know to avoid golfer’s elbow and other common issues.
As golf season in Westchester comes into full swing, our courses are flooded with eager golfers. So, too, is the office of Dr. Brett Poniros in Pleasantville. Poniros, a chiropractor, works almost exclusively with athletes and active individuals, many of whom are referred to him by Kevin Sprecher, Director of Instruction at Sleepy Hollow GC.
“Golf puts a tremendous amount of stress on the body,” Sprecher says. “I constantly see during my lessons that golfers play through injuries and injuries recur throughout the season due to a lack of proper rehab.”
Common golf injuries include golfer’s elbow, low back pain, rotator cuff injuries, and IT band syndrome, according to Poniros. Sprecher and Poniros recommend thorough and consistent warmups before playing—or practicing on the range. When injuries occur, though, these treatments will help:
This is an overuse injury, but can also occur on one swing, typically if you haven’t warmed up. It’s a good idea to manage the number of practice range swings where you take a divot, especially early in the season. To condition the forearm and rehab it if you end up with golfer’s elbow, focus on gripping exercises and movements that train the forearm muscles, like forearm curls and heavy carrying exercises.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
Any one of the four cuff muscles that help stabilize and rotate the shoulder can be stressed and/or impinged, especially by quick or jerky movements. To treat it, gradually expose your body to more mobility and load, making continual progress as you feel comfortable. Significant shoulder pain may require some modifications like taking a break from the driver for a while. Working in pain-free overhead movements like landmine presses or downward dog can go a long way in strengthening the entire range of motion of the shoulders.
IT Band Syndrome
Some players get pain in the outside of the knee that often creates tightness and aggravation in the same hip and down the side of the leg. The most common cause is underutilization of the glute muscles, so be sure to warm up your lateral glute muscles and incorporate a short training program a few times a week. Great exercises are side plank variations and any single leg exercises like step-ups or lunges. Also, consider addressing your front foot position with your swing coach to ensure you’re not creating too much torque through the hip/knee area.
Sprecher points out that some mental adjustments may be helpful, too. “In the weeks leading up to a tournament, I often see players over-practicing and putting their bodies under too much strain,” he says. “Players need to understand the value of giving their body (and mind) the opportunity to rest and recover. This doesn’t mean they should go weeks without swinging a golf club but can involve slowing down the intensity of their practice, especially if they are carrying a minor injury.”