Posts Tagged ‘golf injury’

The Elbow — A Common Source of Misery for Golfers

The foot-high fescue (benignly called “native grass”) has grown in particularly thick on East Coast golf courses with all the recent rain.

I found out just how thick yesterday when I hit a drive into the tall grass on the second hole of South Fork Country Club in Amagansett, NY. I followed the sage advice of a Jamaican caddy from the Atlantic Golf Club who once told me how to get the ball out of this gnarly lie — “Take your wedge and hit it as hard as you can, mon.” I took my punishment and used the wedge to advance the ball about 50 yards, remembering the caddy’s cheers when I had done the same — “good shot, good shot!”

But I didn’t get out of the rough unscathed. My left elbow took a blow as I pounded down on the ball. It took a hole or two for the sting to go away, and after the round it still hurt some so I took some ibuprofen (which also helped relieve the pain in my surgically repaired right knee, which I had tweaked a few weeks ago) and iced it when I got home.

The elbow is a common source of misery for golfers. The most common type of elbow pain among golfers is called golfer’s elbow. Traditionally, doctors believed that golfers only had pain on the outside of the left (non-dominant) elbow, and dubbed this golfer’s elbow to differentiate it from pain on the inside of the right (dominant) elbow, called tennis elbow. But there seems to be an equal number of problems on both sides of the elbows of golfers.

A right-handed golfer normal feels pain in the left elbow. Pulling the club through the swing with the left wrist causes irritation in the left elbow. So a right-handed golfer who feels pain in the right arm or wrist is doing something terribly wrong during the swing.

As explained in the Golf Injury Handbook, golfer’s elbow is an inflammation of the muscles of the forearm and the tendon that connects the muscles to the bones in the elbow. These muscles are used to bend the wrist backward and to turn the palm face up. When the muscles and tendon become inflamed from overuse, you feel pain on the outside of the elbow. The pain is worse when you try to lift things with your palm facing down, so you may have trouble picking up a coffee cup or taking a quart of milk out of the refrigerator.

This injury also causes pain when you rotate your hand in a counterclockwise direction. You also will feel pain when you clench or squeeze something, such as when you hold a golf club.

Treatment for golfer’s elbow is the same as for tennis elbow — rest and anti-inflammatory agents, followed by physical therapy and a wrist strengthening program. Cortisone injections are only used when this fails. On rare occasions, surgery is necessary to reattach tendons to bone. If elbow pain is very severe, or if it persists for more than a few weeks and prevents playing, you should see a doctor.

Here are a few other tips from the Mount Sinai Department of Orthopaedics on how to avoid Golfer’s Elbow:

1. Select the Right Golf Clubs. It’s crucial to make sure that you are using golf clubs that are sized properly, including grip size.

2. Stretching Exercises. Simple stretches of the muscles and tendons around the elbow may help reduce the symptoms of golfer’s elbow.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Medication. Persistent pain in the elbow area can be relieved by taking an anti-inflammatory medication. Speak to your doctor about a prescription for one of these medications if your pain is severe.

Slice-Free Golf – How to Avoid the Dreaded Banana Ball

I can’t wait to play golf this weekend now that I’ve read Slice-Free Golf by Brian Crowell.

I met Brian, who is the PGA Head Golf Professional at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, NY, last Monday at a charity golf tournament, the FR Male Memorial Golf Classic, at Westchester Hills Country Club.

Part of the goodie bag was a copy of the Slice-Free Golf book.

Brian, who is also a golf analyst and commentator on television and radio, was on hand for a pre-round demonstration of his well-thought-out program to banish the “banana ball” — the golfer’s way of describing a slice.

In his easy-going, and amusing, style, he showed the 130 golfers how to set up, swing, and release the club to hit a gently curving draw, the opposite of a slice.

The one drill that struck me was his third-eye drill, where he placed a large eye on his chest and showed us how the third eye (and your chest) should point behind the ball at impact.

I spoke to Brian at the cocktail hour after the round, and he told me his easy-to-follow program “allows you to maintain your individual style, provides fast results, leads to permanent changes, and is 100% successful.”

He also counseled me how to avoid a golf injury:

“Don’t stretch until you have warmed-up and try to avoid hitting balls off a mat, which can be hard on a slicer’s hands and arms.”

I’ve now read through the entire book’s 25 drills and plan to put them into practice this weekend.

I’m hoping to avoid those slices from the rough that ended my team’s chances to win the Male tournament.

As Brian writes in the book, I’m now prepared “to hit shots that you wouldn’t have thought possible and get ready to have more FUN!”

Playing Surface Matters in Golf Injuries

Although golf is not considered a strenuous sport, about one-third of recreational golfers sustain an injury each year.

And about two-thirds of golfers over age 50 suffer some type of golf injury.

Sports medicine doctors know that golfers who return to action after a long layoff are at high risk of an injury.

Overstretching a joint or muscle may result in a sprain or muscle pull, causing many miserable Mondays after that first weekend back to golf.

Topping the list of golfer’s injuries are the back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee.

To prevent back injuries, strengthen the abdominal muscles with crunches (bent-knee sit-ups).

Shoulder raises with light dumbbells help prevent shoulder problems.

Squeezing a small rubber ball with each hand strengthens the forearms and helps protect the elbows and wrists from damage.

For the knees, strengthen the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh (leg extensions) and the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh (leg curls).

New research presented on June 2 at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting and the 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine suggests that golfers recovering from or prone to injury should limit playing or practicing on natural grass.

Andrea Fradkin, PhD, an associate professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA, says “certain parts of the body may be subjected to greater forces on natural grass, increasing the potential for injury or re-injury.”

If you’re coming back to the links after an injury, first head to the driving range to hit balls off the mat easily a few times to get your muscles used to swinging again.

At home, develop a daily stretching routine.

Spending just a little time stretching regularly will give you an edge over your golfing buddies and consistently shave a few strokes off your scores.

It also helps insulate you from a further injury.

Golfers should concentrate on stretching the trunk, shoulders, and hamstring and calf muscles.

For the trunk, place a club behind your head, rotate and hold for 20 seconds, then turn back and hold again for 20 seconds.

For the shoulders, stretch one arm across your body and hold for 20 seconds, then repeat with the other arm.

For the hamstring and calf muscles, do toe touches for 20 seconds at a time.

Once you have recovered from an injury, before you play warm up, stretch, then hit a bucket of balls on the driving range, progressing from short irons to longer clubs.

After you play, go through your stretching program.

One good stretch in each area will prevent soreness the next day.