Sports Medicine

Sports injuries (GOLF)

One study showed that during a two year period, 60 percent of golf professionals and 40 of amateurs suffered either a traumatic or overuse injury while golfing. Over 80 percent of the reported injuries were related to overuse.


There are some unusual injuries associated with golfing.

Golfers also suffer bone-jarring sensations when their clubs strike the ground during a mishit or fat shot swing. Low back pain is the most common injury or complaint among both professional and amateur golfers, followed by injuries to the upper extremities (elbow and shoulder). Professional golfers experience a higher number of wrist injuries, and amateur golfers experience more elbow problems. Both groups have a relatively high rate of shoulder injuries.

Low back problems can occur as a result of the powerful rotation and extension motion in the golf swing. In elite golfers, the golf swing can generate club head speeds of over 120 mph. In a study of PGA golfers, 33 percent had experienced low back problems of greater than two weeks’ duration in the past year. A 2004 study suggests that increasing the range of motion of lumbar spine extension and rotation of the lead hip (left hip in right-handed golfers) may decrease the incidence of low back pain. Golfers who carry their own bag have twice the incidence of back, shoulder and ankle injuries.

The elbow is the second most commonly injured area in golfers. The two most common problems are medial epicondylitis (also known as golfer’s or thrower’s elbow) and lateral epicondylitis (more commonly known as tennis elbow). Both are thought to occur as a result of poor swing mechanics.Medial epicondylitis is thought to be caused by hitting shots “fat” (that is, hitting the ground first), and lateral epicondylitis may be caused by over-swinging with the right hand in right-handed golfers. Both of these problems increase with age and frequency of play. Good pre-round stretching of the upper extremity and a good strengthening program have been shown to decrease these problems.

In professional golfers, injuries to the low back are followed in incidence by injuries to the wrist. The lead wrist (left wrist in right-handed golfers) is most commonly injured. The majority of golf injuries are overuse injuries of the wrist flexor and extensor tendons.

Another commonly injured area in golfers is the shoulder. There are specific muscles in the shoulder that are most active in the swing. These are the subscapularis (one of the rotator cuff muscles), pectoralis (“Pecs”) and latissimus (“Lats”) muscles. Impingement syndrome (a bursitis and tendonitis in the shoulder), rotator cuff problems, and arthritis are the most common shoulder problems. These occur most frequently in the lead arm.