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Back Pain in Golf

Posted on 7th October 2019 by

Every year, the charity dedicated to supporting and helping people with back pain, BackCare, dedicates a week to highlighting a specific area of back pain. For 2019, the focus is on back pain in golfers.

Back pain in golf

There is a distinct lack of awareness regarding the prevention of back related injuries among golfers which hinder their play and performance in the sport.

Golf is a leisure sport enjoyed by more than 60 million people of all ages across the world and has reached the 4 million mark in the UK alone. It has many health and well-being benefits. It is widely known that a typical 18-hole-round amounts to 6-8 km of walking requiring 8000 to 12000 steps and a significant calorie burn.

You might be surprised to hear that more injuries occur in golf than in rugby! Golf with other leisure sports have an injury rate of 1.8 per thousand persons per year as opposed to 1.5 per thousand persons per year in rugby and other team sports according to the National Centre for Health Statistics.

What are the most common golfing injuries?

Low back injuries are the most common complaint from golfers. They account for 15.2% to 34% of all golf injuries, followed by injuries to the elbow (7% to 27%), shoulder (4% to 19%) and wrist 10%. Golf is a repetitive sport – With an average of 300 swings per golf-playing-day. So the type of injuries a golfer often picks up are overuse injuries.

How common are golf injuries?

Between 15.8% to 40.9% of amateur golfers report an injury (or injuries) every year; among professionals, the incidence ranges between 31% to 90% annually.

How does the swing affect the back?

Back problems are mainly attributed to how the golf swing of present-day professionals, such as Tiger Woods (the ‘modern swing’/‘the X-factor swing’) differs from that of golf legends like Jack Nicklaus (‘classic swing’). The modern swing is more powerful and exerts a greater compressive force toward the anatomy of the spine, which can be a contributory factor in back issues.

‘A long swing with passive wrists and light grip pressure can prevent back issues’ – US Golfer Phil Mickelson. At 45, Mickelson has played without any of the serious back pain unlike most of the major champions like Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. Back injuries have sidelined the careers of former champions Tiger Woods and Fred Couples several times!

Want to know more about preventing back pain in golf, here’s a great little fact sheet ‘Swing Clever‘ that highlights the different factors associated with the classic and modern swing.

If back pain or any other injury is stopping you from enjoying your golf, then do get in touch. Our team can help!


“Why do I have tennis elbow if I’ve never played tennis?”

Posted on 4th July 2017 by

It’s a question we hear a lot in physio! The term ‘tennis elbow’ is the commonly used (and much easier to pronounce) name to describe what’s actually known in the medical world as ‘lateral epicondylalgia’ or ‘lateral epicondylitis‘, meaning ‘pain on the outside of the elbow’.

ennis elbow physioTennis elbow is a common type of elbow pain which occurs when the tendon of our wrist extensors muscles (the muscles that life our wrist up) becomes inflamed and irritated where they insert on the outside of the elbow. Because these wrist extensor muscles are worked extra hard in tennis which requires both a strong grip and explosive flicks of the wrist for back hand shots, these two names became synonymous.

However tennis elbow can occur in any one who does a lot of repetitive wrist extension or gripping activities and can be classified as a repetitive strain injury (RSI). In fact, it probably affects more non-tennis player’s than tennis players! Outside of the tennis world we see it a lot in office workers who spend long periods of time typing or who have a poor ergonomic set up, who come to see us with pain in their elbow.

In the early stages, tennis elbow can be treated effectively with rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and modification of activities to change the way you lift, grip or type. For example, lifting an object using your hand palm-up rather than palm down uses different muscle groups so affords the wrist extensors some rest.

Using ergonomic keyboards and mouse set ups (e.g. vertical mouse) can also reduce the strain on these muscles.

Unfortunately, this condition can be persistent if you don’t change the aggravating activities or have left it and it has become a longer term issue. If the above simple strategies aren’t working for you, you’ve been experiencing problems for some time or the pain is limiting you doing what you want or need to do everyday, come and seek our help. We’ll be able to assess you in detail and use a combination of manual therapy, ultrasound, acupuncture and strength and flexibility exercises to speed up your recovery. We’ll also ask about your day to day activities you struggle with and offer helpful solutions to modify these, or use of an Epi-clasp strap to offload the area if necessary. Remember the sooner you seek help the quicker and easier it is to get your pain better, so don’t’ let it linger on!

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Sport Focus: Golfing Injuries

Posted on 8th February 2017 by

Golf is a power sport. Its ultimate aim is to ensure the club head reaches peak velocity at the point of impact with the ball, in an angle and direction that optimises accuracy, in a repeatable and consistent way. Golfers agree this is much easier to say than do.

It is in attempting to reach this gold standard, that many golfers make compensations, due to their own innate or acquired physiological weaknesses. Although the body’s ability to adapt and compensate is excellent up to a point, without detecting and correcting these weaknesses, performance will suffer and pain and injury often occur.

Damage can range from simple muscle and tendon overuse, to traumatic twists and sprains. Some of the more common golfing injuries we successfully treat at goPhysio include the following:

  • Golfer’s and Tennis elbow: An overuse tendon injury affecting the forearm musculature, this is usually a direct result of the excessive forces generated in the extensor or flexor tendons, due to club and grip, swing changes or issues, inadequate warm-up, poor practice habits and the repetitive nature of the golf swing
  • Muscle Tears: Commonly occur within the powerful rotational muscles of the trunk and lower limbs. This injury frequently transpires as a player becomes fatigued towards the end of a round
  • Ligament Sprains: Affect mainly the back, hips, knees and ankles due to the twisting and rotational forces generated when swinging
  • Shoulder Injuries: Commonly affect the rotator cuff musculature, as it works hard to control the arm position throughout the golf swing
  • Back and Injuries: Without correct spinal posture at address and throughout the golf swing, powerful, negative rotational forces are generated within the spine, often leading to long term facet joint and disc injuries with myofascial trigger points and protective muscle spasm

Our approach ensures that we will treat your injury successfully. As well as “hands-on” treatments, we will detect and correct any physiological weaknesses and compensations which may be affecting your golf swing and performance.

We give you the treatment, exercise, education and advice to improve your swing mechanics, accuracy and performance, achieve long-term physical durability and prevent injury relapse.

If you’re suffering with a golf related injury and want to get back to enjoying your golf without pain, give us a call on 023 8025 3317. You can also book an appointment online to see one of our team at our clinic in Chandlers Ford.