By John C. Kagan, M.D. –
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were more than 11,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms for golf-related injuries in people over the age of 65 in 2011. While golf has often been considered a lower level physical activity without a whole lot of risk for injury, many injuries can be caused by playing golf. Injuries to the ankle, knee, hip and wrist are common and could cause limitations in a golfer’s ability to enjoy the sport. To keep your swing strong this spring, a number of exercise techniques are available to help build your muscles and help avoid common golf injuries.
Leading the list of injuries in golfers is the “golfer’s elbow.” Technically known as medical epicondylitis and sometimes also referred to as tendinitis, golfer’s elbow consists of an inflammation of the tendons that attach your forearm muscles to the end of the arm bone in the elbow area. A tight grip on the golf club and frequent repetitive motions over time can cause the forearm muscles and tendons to become damaged from overuse. The result is pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow.
One of the most successful ways to avoid golfer’s elbow is to strengthen the muscles in your forearm and slow your golf swing so that the arm will absorb less shock when the ball is hit. Try the following exercises from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for best results:
• Squeeze a tennis ball. Squeezing an old tennis ball for 5 minutes at a time is a simple, effective exercise that will strengthen your forearm muscles.
• Wrist curls. Use a lightweight dumbbell. Lower the weight to the end of your fingers, and then curl the weight back into your palm, followed by curling up your wrist to lift the weight an inch or two higher. Perform 10 repetitions with one arm, and then repeat with the other arm.
• Reverse wrist curls. Use a lightweight dumbbell. Place your hands in front of you, palm side down. Using your wrist, lift the weight up and down. Hold the arm that you are exercising above your elbow with your other hand in order to limit the motion to your forearm. Perform 10 repetitions with one arm, and then repeat with the other arm.
In addition, it is essential to do some simple stretching exercises before your golf game is played. Focus on your shoulders, back and legs. Stretching before your golf game will help to best promote a fluid and full golf swing. Once you have warmed up and stretched, practice hitting a few golf balls on the driving range to not only help your game, but it will help you stay healthy and hopefully injury-free in the long run.
John C Kagan
Dr. John Kagan has more than 30 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon treating patients in Southwest Florida. He specializes in treating patients with knee, shoulder and hip pain, as well as general orthopedics and hand surgery. For more information go to www.kaganortho.com or call 239-936-6778.