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Don't let pain stop a golf career!

3 tips to keep you on course for your best golf yet!

The Augusta Masters are coming and the fabulous TV exposure really makes golf looks like an easy game to play. Surely you couldn’t injury yourself hitting a stationary object with a club into a relatively wide-open space? Well, think again! To become a good golfer, it is recommended that you start young and practice, practice, and practice. Golf historically is perceived as being a low-risk sport when it comes to injuries. However, many amateur golfers, especially those who lack proper technique, suffer from acute or overuse injuries.

What types of injuries are most common in golf?

Golf injuries have been reported to affect 15-20% of golfers each year. Golf injuries are mostly due to overuse (44%), but there are some traumatic injuries that can occur on the golf course. If it is not recognized it can result in individuals pushing through the “pain barrier”, compounding the injury, not enjoying their golf an ultimately stopping all together.

A study in the British Journal of Sport Medicine (2010) showed that overall the majority of golfers (66%) had sustained an injury during their professional career and 31% had injured themselves within the last year. While there were no significant gender differences in the overall incidence of injuries, men were 2.5 times more likely to sustain a lower back injury than women (OR 2.53).

The most frequently injured sites were lower back (44%), wrist (44%), elbow (23%), neck (20%) and shoulder (19%). There was no relationship between the number of hours spent playing golf and likelihood of injury (x2=17.30, p value=0.16).

    Top 5 Injuries
% Injuries
    Lower back Pain 44%
    Wrist Injury 44%
    Golfers Elbow 23%
    Neck pain 20%
    Shoulder pain 19%
Source: Bacley et al. Br. J. of Sports Medicine BMJ 2010


Dr. Dominic Hegarty (Clinical Director Pain Relief Ireland) highlights that the research evidence indicates that recreational golfers tend to sustain more golf injuries than professional level golfers and that more injuries occur as players get older. “Generally, overuse injuries tend to occur as we get older because the joint and tendon tissues become less able to withstand stress”. It is often the case that the injury was sustained during some other sport or activity, but that it is aggravated during golf.

Jack Nicklaus had it right when he said, "Professional golfers condition to play golf; amateur golfers play golf to condition." That explains why 62 percent of amateurs will sustain a significant golf injury, typically because they're out of shape, have poor swing mechanics, or don't adequately warm up. For the pros, that number is even higher—85 percent—but their injuries tend to come from hitting 200, 300, 500 balls a day.

At Pain Relief Ireland it is not surprising that we get an increase in requests from golfers getting back on the golf course after the winter lay off. Lower back is a critical issue accounting for 20-30% cases. What is labeled as “lower back pain”, Dr. Hegarty finds that very often sacroiliac joint issues or lumbar facet joint are the cause of these symptoms. Thankfully both of these are managed quickly and effectively once recognized as the source of the problem.

In fact, not only is a strained lower back the most common golf injury it is the one injury most likely to shorten a golfers career. Jason Daly, Kevin Kisner and Tiger Woods are just some examples. More of a reason why you should not hesitate to contact Pain Relief Ireland to get an assessment. Dr. Hegarty acknowledges that the modern power swing is all about the rotation of the pelvis through the shot. The torque this creates between the pelvis and the lumbar spine pulls the ligaments, tendons and muscles in that area. Also, the shearing effect can wear away the discs between the vertebrae in the lumbar spine, leading to disc disease; that's the real career-ender.

Why do injuries occur & what can you do to prevent them?

Approximately 44% of all reported golf injuries in youth are from overuse. The main causes of these injuries include:

Lack of flexibility & Poor conditioning

  • 80% of individuals spent less than 10 minutes warming up. This becomes even more critically with age or if you have an underlying “old” injury.
  • Those who did warm up had less than half the incidence of injuries of those who did not warm up before playing.

Poor swing mechanics

  • All Golfers work to prefect their swing and so they should. Any limitations in range of motion (ROM) will hamper the golfer's ability to achieve the proper swing plane, thus increasing the stress on the involved joints and muscles.
  • Even a “niggle” will throw off your technique and you may be doing more harm than good. Listen to your body and get seek an opinion of your physiotherapist sooner rather than later

Excessive play or practice

  1. DON’T “Playing through the Pain Barrier”!
  2. The golf swing involves repetitive, high-velocity movement of the neck, shoulders, spine, elbow, wrist, hips, knees, and ankles.
  3. The percentage of injuries directly correlates with the number of rounds or the number of range/practice balls struck per week.


Remember, don’t let the injury build up, take action early and don’t let pain prematurely end your enjoyment and your golf. Call Pain Relief Ireland on 021 235 5500 to make an appointment.