Golf and reducing your risk of injuries
Getting a tee time for golf and hitting at the driving range, are one of the hottest tickets in town currently with the nice weather, and the ability to social distance easily. With the increase in playing time, there is also an increase risk of injury. Injuries from golf are caused by a multitude of factors including poor technique, poor movement patterns and poorly fitted equipment. These factors are difficult to change, take time and can also become expensive having to pay for new equipment. But there are some factors that are easier to change:
As tee times are harder to come by more people are hitting at the driving range instead. When going to the driving range hammering through a bucket of 100 balls in 15 minutes will most likely do more harm than good. I often see people on the driving range where they miss hit a ball, the proceed to hit a ball straight after hoping that was just a one-off mistake. This mindless hitting will engrain the poor sequencing, swing plane, early extension etc you used on the previous miss hit ball. Instead step back and refocus and get your target again to hit the next shot pure. What this also does is allow you to get some rest after putting in a max effort swing. This takes me to the next point
Although golf is not known as a fatiguing or gruelling sport, swinging 100 time at a high intensity in a short time is. This kind of practice can lead to fatigue, exposing yourself to injury. It is both fatiguing on your energy systems but also on your nervous system, as it tries to fire signals rapidly to every part of your body to sync up all the moving parts. Instead break up your practice, by stepping back after shots concentrating on your target every time and doing a pre-shot routine like you would on a course. Mix in some shorter shots with your wedges and pretending to play a par 4 after bombing a drive down the middle.
When you are hitting of natural ground, you usually take a divot (not too deep I hope). The force you put into the ground with your club is dispersed through the ground. When you’re hitting off a mat, your unable to disperse the forces as it has no give. That force is sent back up the club and up into your hands and, arms. Having this repetitive force into your body can be damaging and cause you to fatigue quicker, leading to an increase risk in injury.
When it comes to grass, as the season turns there is going to be more dew and more rain, which will lead to thicker and wet grass particularly in the rough. We need to Understand that if, (more likely when) we hit out of the rough, the thick wet grass is going to grab the club and turn in our hands which will add torsional forces, increasing our risk of injury particularly our wrists. Instead of trying to swing as hard as you can out of the rough, club up and swing at 80% to decrease the amount of force going through the club. Or if it’s really thick take your medicine, and dare I say it, lay up.
I know now especially with the protocols in place at golf courses, you don’t have time or space to warm up extensively to get ready for your round. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a warmup at all. Even a 5 minute warm up, working on specific areas you need to warm up will help reduce the risk of injury and make swinging a whole lot easier. Getting a physical assessment, and getting to understand your weaknesses and strengths, you will be able to target certain areas that have more restrictions and need more warming up than other areas.
Try these simple and easy tips to reduce your risk of injury so you can continue to play while the sun is still shining. If you are suffering from an injury, book a session to get assessed and get back out there on the course and play pain free. Also talk to your local golf pro to fix up some of your swing faults that may be exacerbating your risk of injury.