Man swinging a golf club

Top Three Injuries in Golfers and How to Fix Them

Golf is the fastest growing sport in America, and south Florida is the epicenter of this activity. Our office is on a street named PGA Boulevard. Everyone lives and breathes golf around here. With the increase in golf activity is an increase in golf-related injuries. These injuries can affect both new and experienced players. We're going to discuss the top three injuries in golfers and how to fix them so that you can get back to playing without pain.

Golfer's Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

This injury may seem like one of the most obvious injuries in golfers since "golf" is in the name. However, this condition is the least common of the three that we will talk about in this article. Golfer's elbow is characterized by pain on the inside part of the elbow (the part closest to your body if your palm is facing forward).

Golfer holding his elbow
Golfer's elbow occurs at the inside of the elbow
Golfer's elbow illustration

This area of the elbow undergoes strain from the beginning of the downswing until the beginning of the follow-through and only affects the back elbow. That means it affects the right elbow of right-handed golfers and the left elbow of left-handed golfers. This condition is classified as an overuse injury, most often occurring with frequent or long-duration training sessions. Golfer's elbow can also be complicated and magnified by a poor swing technique.

If you are experiencing pain in this area, the best course of action is to reduce training duration, intensity and frequency temporarily. Additionally, there is a series of exercises that can help loosen and stretch the muscles involved. Check out the exercises that can be found at the end of this article.

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

You may be asking yourself, "why would a golfer get tennis elbow?" The truth is that tennis elbow, also known at lateral epicondylitis, can affect not just tennis players, but even non-athletes. This condition is characterized by pain on the outside of the elbow. If your palm is facing forward it is the part of the elbow that is facing away from your body. In contrast to golfer's elbow, tennis elbow affects the front elbow of golfers. That means that it affects the left arm of right-handed golfers and the right elbow of left-handed golfers.

Tennis player with tennis elbow
Tennis elbow
Tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow

I often find that tennis elbow is more common in golfers than golfer's elbow. Who'd have thought? This condition is characterized by pain or weakness when gripping objects and the pain can be sharp and nauseating. The stretching series at the end of this article is also useful for this condition. Unfortunately, tendonitis of any area is not always a linear progression to health. Sometimes there will be good days, sometimes there will be bad days. Ultimately the general trend from week to week should show improvement.

Some of the techniques we use to treat tendonitis, both golfer's elbow and tennis elbow, include hands-on therapy such as Active Release Technique and Graston Technique. These are extremely useful in the treatment of this condition, as it increases blood flow to the area which encourages healing. Tendons are the part of the body that connect muscles to bone. Unfortunately do not have naturally great blood flow, which can slow progress. That's why bringing blood flow to the area can be so useful.

Low Back Pain

By far, one of the most common injuries in golfers we see is low back pain. When we say "low back pain," we are not talking about one single condition, but is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions. Each one of these condition can result in pain or discomfort near the lower portion of the spine or back. Some examples of specific injuries that may cause low back pain in golfers are disc herniations, muscle strains, and facet syndrome, just to name a few.

One reason low back pain is so common in golfers is that the high-speed rotation involved in a golf swing can be damaging in a weak, fatigued, or untrained low back. Often, we hear about how important it is to have a strong core. A golf swing is one of those times where this importance comes into play in order to prevent this type of injury. If you've already injured your back, this is where chiropractic care becomes an extremely effective treatment. Low back pain is the most common condition we treat and there is no replacement for a well-rounded treatment plan that includes chiropractic care and rehabilitative exercise.

Are you a golfer with elbow pain or low back pain? Try the exercises below. However, a proper diagnosis and management by your doctor is the most important step to getting better faster. Make an appointment right away to get back on track as quickly as possible and we'll get you going in the right direction.