In the 2016 NCAA Semifinals, Texas Longhorns men’s golf defeated the USC Trojans, but at a high price. Junior star Beau Hossler injured his shoulder on the 15th hole and head coach John Fields declared his status “up in the air”. Every sport has its trademark injuries and in order to fully play at your peak performance, you need to be aware of common injuries and how to avoid them. One of the best things you can do for your body is to make sure that you are in good physical condition before you play golf and to know your limitations.
Back injuries often result from swinging golf clubs and walking the greens, and they are common among golfers. A survey was conducted in Australia of amateur golfers and they found 17.6% of golfers sustained at least 1 injury in the previous year. The lower back accounted for 25% of the golf injuries, making the lower back the most common site of injury. Muscle ointments, ice packs, and back braces can help alleviate these problems. Make sure you give your back plenty of time to recover after a round of golf before pursuing your next physical activity. If you play continuous games back to back, you may want to consider an occasional massage or even a chiropractic alignment. If back pain continues, make sure to see a doctor.
Another common injury is tennis elbow, or more commonly called golfer’s elbow in the game of golf. This type of injury often happens when you suddenly increase the amount of time you spend on the course. There are a few minor differences between tennis and golfer’s elbow. Tennis elbow impacts the outside of the upper arm, while golfer’s elbow impacts the inner arm. While there is no specific way to avoid these injuries, it is advised that you gradually increase your amount of play rather than delve head long into intense competition. Make sure you are also using the right size of grip, and the proper posture.
As with Beau Hossler, shoulder problems are also at the top of the list for golf injuries. Shoulder injuries increase with the number of rounds and balls hit per week, with a higher number of shoulder injuries in golfers who play four or more rounds in a week or hit more than 200 balls during the same time period. Both the leading shoulder and the non-leading shoulder are prone to their own unique afflictions. Experts recommend that you stop playing if you start to feel pain. Carrying a golf bag with your sore shoulder can also exacerbate the injury. Make sure you use the proper equipment and technique to keep shoulder pain at a minimum, and of course always warm up before hitting the course.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Golfers are often surprised to learn that tingling fingers, numb hands, aching thumbs, or pain in your wrists is a result of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Many people think that only people with computer jobs experience this kind of repetitive stress injury, but that just isn’t true. It affects a large percentage of golfers as well. Rest, medication, splinting and/or surgery may be needed to relieve the pain. In the meantime, make sure that golf club grips are replaced as needed, or consider larger/softer grips. Reduce your grip pressure on the club handle as well.
If you’re a serious golfer and have ever had an injury from the game, then you know that the physical discomfort you feel is only one very small part of the overall pain that you have to go through in the rehab process. The mental anguish caused by the temporary or permanent loss of your sport can be just as devastating as a back, elbow, shoulder, or hand injury. For some golfers, the psychological response to injury can trigger or unmask serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and substance use or abuse. Golfers need to understand that emotional distress is just as important to recognize and treat as symptoms for physical injuries.
Since the Semifinals, Beau Hossler has undergone shoulder surgery and was told by his doctor that he was “completely healed” and could return to playing golf at his own pace. Hossler turned pro in July and is expected to play some smaller events to get back into the “swing” of things. He plans to be ready to compete at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January. If you experience an injury, set rehabilitation goals with your doctor to create a sense of personal responsibility. It will motivate you to return to play and will help create a clear path to recovery.