Golf related injuries – An “Age-old” Issue

It could certainly be said that golf isn’t exactly renowned for being an intensely physical sport, such as rugby or even tennis. Generally considered to be a sedate game, it is perhaps a surprise then to learn that golf related injuries are not only common, but they are quite often also long-lasting.

The very nature of the sport means that it is played by an older demographic than other sports, and with the increase of age, of course, comes the increased risk of injury. It is important to recognize the signs of a developing injury, and to take steps to avoid making a problem worse, particularly if you are over the age of fifty, and your recovery time is not what it used to be.

Repetitive Strain

Over 80% of golf related injuries, particularly in the elderly, are related to muscles and joints wearing down due to the repetition of a particular action. This is often referred to as RSI, or
Repetitive Strain Injury. In golf, the swing is not only repetitive, but it also involves putting strain on several different parts of the body.

The most publicized of these injuries in recent years have been back and knee injuries, partly due to the ongoing injury problems that have blighted Tiger Woods’ career over the past few years. Of course, he is still only in his early 40s, but his famed brutal physical regime has seen his doctors and surgeons compare some of his joints to those of a 70-year old. These, along with wrist, shoulder and knee issues, are the five most common problems suffered by golfers.

The Age Factor

It is an unavoidable truth that we are more susceptible to injury as we age. The human body suffers from erosion of bone, joints and cartilage, which typically leads to arthritis. Post-menopausal women lose bone mass at a rate of about 2% per year, compared with 0.4% in men. Men, however, lose a higher percentage of muscle mass, simply due to naturally having a higher amount, genetically. It is essential that the older we are, the more we warm up and allow the body to get used to the movements we will be making during the course of our sport or activity.

It is also unfortunately the case that recovery periods are a lot longer, so you might not find yourself able to play a 72-round tournament over four consecutive days anymore. These issues ultimately led to the retirements of all-time greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, so there should be no shame in accepting the truth and listening to your body.

Advice for Players

Golf is such a popular sport, and such a great way to relax while still keeping active, so nobody is suggesting that you give up. There are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood of specific injuries, though.

1. Hit the gym

It might seem counter-intuitive to combat injury by exercising more, but light work in the gym will help build strength and train muscles. Focus on twisting exercises, but remember to warm up and only carry out slow, smooth movements. Nobody is suggesting you break out the heavy weights; that would be the fastest way to create more problems.

2. Don’t penny-pinch with footwear

Put simply, good shoes are your friend. Over 50% of golfers over the age of 50 suffer injuries from the sheer amount of walking on slopes and up and down grassy knolls. Consider a cushioned sole with good spikes, and perhaps a gait analysis at your local sports footwear
specialist. You can buy footwear that compensates for over-pronation (where your weight transfer from heel to foot when you walk is not in a straight line with the bones in your leg – an incredibly common issue), and reduce impact issues straight away.

3. Mind your clubs

Again, plenty of people have injured themselves while carrying clubs. To reduce strain on your shoulders, consider a trolley or even a caddy!

It can be difficult to admit that we aren’t superhuman anymore, and that our physical abilities are on the wane, but it happens to everyone – even the greatest of athletes. Don’t be stubborn, because ignoring a problem is a sure-fire way to exacerbate it. Focus on slowing everything down – your swing, your warm-up routine, your recovery time and even your walking speed between holes. Always ask for professional’s assistance and for legal issues

Nobody wants to be put on the clock, but unless you’re still playing at an exceptionally high level, a few minutes’ extra on approaching the 18th green isn’t going to cost you anything. Golf related injuries are not only frustrating, they are often recurring, as the issue stems from an unavoidable, repeated action. So be proactive; tackle the problem today!

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