Using Golf Fitness to Prevent Injuries

Certain things can injure you on a golf course whether you're on the links in New York, California, or the Bahamas, and you can't do much to prevent them. These include a sudden lightning strike, a thrown club, an errant golf ball, or an overturned golf cart.

The most common injuries, however, are those to a golfer's lower back, elbow, and shoulder. These are areas over which golfers have a much larger measure of control than they do with lightning and flying balls.

Two different elements of golf fitness help in the prevention of golf injuries. Much of the first sort takes place when you're nowhere near the links. The second occurs between the time you arrive at the golf course and the time you tee off.

Exercises Specifically for Golf

People whose only exercise is on the links and who play once a week aren't doing themselves or their golf game any good. What you do to increase and maintain your golf fitness between games is crucial in keeping yourself injury free.

Key exercises include those that target the areas that are most likely to be injured, including your lower back, your shoulders, and your elbows. Strengthening and increasing flexibility in these areas is an important ingredient in preventing injuries.

Though lower back pain is in the top three problems for both amateur and professional golfers, lower back injuries account for 53% of the injuries for which amateur golfers are treated.

"So," according to Dr. John Bisaccia, certified sports chiropractic physician, "regardless of the level of play, the lower back appears to be the vulnerable site for injury. Injuries to the lower back may be caused by a combination of factors, including faulty swing mechanics, poor flexibility, inadequate trunk strength, and overuse . . . proper conditioning plays a major role in the prevention of lower back injuries."

One of the key causes of elbow and shoulder injuries is problematic swing mechanics. Swing mechanics issues can arise because of physical limitations that prevent a proper swing, but exercise can reduce the limitations, thus improving the swing and preventing injuries.

Pre-game Warm-ups

PGA Tour Correspondent Sean Cochran sees the pre-round warm up as an essential element of the golf game for a number of reasons. He says, "A series of golf fitness exercises incorporated into your pre-round warm up can be very beneficial for your golf swing . . . the goal of a pre-round warm up is to prepare physically, mentally, and biomechanically for the upcoming round of golf."

According to Dr. John Campbell, a well-planned warm-up routine, including stretching, added regularly to the golf-specific exercise program helps to prevent injury to the shoulder of the lead arm or either elbow. In fact, warm-up prior to playing golf "has been shown to decrease the incidence of golf injuries," according to Dr. Campbell.

Preventive Fitness Is for Pros, Too

Rory McIlroy, whose name was most recently heard round the world during the 75th Masters, employs both a preventive fitness plan as well as a pre-round warm-up routine. His preventive fitness plan focuses on core strength and shoulder workouts. If he can, you can.

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