Golf courses are beginning to open back up, and the chance to get out in the summer weather and enjoy the green is irresistible. Before you accidentally overdo it, here are some reminders of proper technique and posture, along with tips to avoid injury in the back nine.
Most golf injuries are the result of faulty technique. Adjusting your form can help you improve your personal game while reducing the chance of injuries caused by overreach.
Your Leading Wrist
Often, advice is to grip the club with your leading hand in a position that puts your thumb directly at 12:00. Unless your wrist is already extraordinarily strong, this can actually be a weak position. The overload can make you hit the ground and flatten the wrist angle, which will stress the extensor tendons on the top of your wrist and put you at risk for tendinitis. Rotating away from the target just 30 degrees can give you more stability and help you avoid a wrist injury.
Your Leading Elbow
Confusing keeping your leading arm “straight” with locking it can cause the extensor tendons on the outside of the elbow to become overloaded by the jarring of impact. When they start to tear away from the bone, you end up with “tennis elbow”, properly known as lateral epicondylitis. Let your arm hang naturally at your side, and feel what “straight” means without locking your elbow. Then use that soft positioning to keep a smooth swing without bone-jarring impact.
Your Leading Shoulder
If you’re keeping your left arm tucked tight to your chest during the backswing, you can tear the stabilizing labrum in your shoulder joint. You’ll know when it happens, because the posterior labral tear causes a sharp pain in the back of your shoulder. Instead of using your arms for the swing, use your upper body to turn and let your arms follow naturally.
Your Leading Knee
When you shift forward to swing through, the inner side of your leading knee suddenly becomes responsible for absorbing a tremendous amount of compression and torque. Locking the knee makes this worse, not better – the shearing force is increased, and you can tear your meniscus. Make sure the line of your leading thigh is vertical or leaning slightly away from the target on the downswing, and rotate your left foot 20 or 30 degrees toward the target to avoid excessive hip movement.
Your Lower Back
If you’re trying for a modern “power swing”, you’re going to experience rotation of the pelvis through the shot, creating torque between the pelvis and the lumbar spine that can pull all of the lower back ligaments, tendons and muscles. The shearing effect can also damage discs between the vertebrae. Try to turn everything in unison instead of in sequence – rotate your hips and shoulders as a unit instead of twisting separate sections of your torso.These tips might cut a little raw power from your swing, but can keep you from injuring yourself and having to watch your colleagues from the safety of the cart all summer. If you suffer a golfing injury, contact our office for a consultation with Dr. Strasburger.