Golf is a popular sport internationally and across all ages. As a low-impact sport, golf is often perceived as having a low rate of injury. However, in young players or those new to the sport, injuries can result from improper swinging technique. In more advanced or frequent players, overuse injuries are particularly common.
Golf requires muscle power, endurance, and flexibility. You will want to improve your physical abilities to help avoid injuries and ensure that you perform your best throughout the game. Consider a program that consists of stretching, strengthening, and endurance exercises.
Warm up: Stretches to do before you play
A good warm up is important for all athletes. A warm-up will increase your flexibility and range of motion, both of which are important to your swing. It can also help you avoid overuse injuries, like rotator cuff tendinitis or lower back pain. Try knee hugs, shoulder stretches with club, and torso turns.
Strengthening your muscles, particularly your core, will help you add power and distance to your swing. A strong core will also help protect your lower back from injury, and allow you to work on building strength and power in your legs and shoulders. In the months leading up to your golf season, work on these exercises, that include the side plank, superman, and glute bridges. You’ll be able to focus on your technique once the golf season starts if you feel confident in your core strength.
Golf is a long game, so it requires stamina to maintain the same power and form at the end of a game that you started with at the beginning. Working on aerobic exercises as part of your pre-season training will strengthen your muscles and create the stamina you need to succeed. Perform a cardio activity for 20-45 minutes at least 3 times per week to see results in your game. Walking, running, and biking will help to build endurance. Interval training is also a great way to build endurance. This type of conditioning involves alternating bouts of higher intensity work (10-60 seconds) followed by easier submaximal recovery work (15-90 seconds). Start with 1 minute total time of high intensity activity (1-6 rounds), then do 5 minutes of slow recovery work.
To help prevent injury, make sure you practice these general safety tips:
Warm up and stretch before and after you play.
Review swinging technique with a coach or trainer professional to make sure you don’t develop bad habits that could lead to injury.
Use properly fitting equipment, specifically golf shoes.
Lift and carry clubs carefully to avoid straining your back and shoulders.
To avoid injuries from flying clubs or errant balls, pay attention to your surroundings. If you hit an errant ball, make sure to call “fore” to alert the players around you. Be aware of where your fellow golfers are standing.
When riding in a golf cart, keep your feet inside the cart.
Always wear sunscreen to protect your skin and drink water to stay hydrated.
Participate in a conditioning course to strengthen your muscles, particularly your core, back, and shoulders to help prevent injury.
Consult with your coach or athletic trainer about ways to prevent overuse injuries like tendonitis.
Have a physical examination at the start of the season to make sure you’re healthy to play.
If you have any type of persistent pain, consult an orthopedic expert.
• Rotator cuff tear
Arm & Elbow
• Golfer's Elbow
• Hip tendonitis
Hand & Wrist
• Finger or wrist tendonitis
Leg & Knee
• Collateral ligament injury
About 44% of all golf injuries in youth are from overuse1
Lower back, elbow, and wrist injuries account for roughly 80% of all golf injuries2
The main causes of youth injuries include lack of flexibility, poor conditioning, excessive play or practice, poor swing mechanics, ground impact forces, and intermittent play1
Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have any type of persistent pain, be sure to see a doctor.
1 “Golf Injury Prevention,” STOP Sports Injuries.
2 “Golf and upper limb injuries: a summary and review of the literature,” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.