Find out more about these common golf injuries

This article was last updated on December 19, 2016

While there are many injuries that are associated with the game of golf, there are four common ailments that could strike the next time you hit the links.

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Golf Injuries in a Nutshell

      • 15-30 percent injury rate in amateur golfers
      • 7 percent injury rate in training golf professionals
      • Most common injuries involved the low back (18.3 percent), the elbow (17.2 percent), the foot and ankle (12.9 percent), and the shoulder (11.8 percent)
      • Primary cause of injury is related to the high number of repetitions performed by professional and amateur golfers while practicing and in play
      • Action of swinging club can commonly incur injury (46.2 percent of injuries attributed to golf swing)
      • Average golfer takes approximately 55 full swings and 38 putts during 18-hole round of golf
      • A complex and controlled motion that involves the generation of large forces through an expansive range of rotational movement creates a great amount of joint torque
      • High demands paired with poor swing technique and a subsequent overuse leads to injury

Low back injuries in golf

      • Swing can produce compressive loads up to eight times body weight on the lumbar spine
      • Also creates very high shear and rotational forces
      • The crunch factor: lumbar spine flexion, rotation, side-bending to the trail side of the lumbar spine at impact creates overload conditions at the joints in the lumbar spine
      • Limitation in hip range of motion is typically associated with golfers who have history of low back pain. Limited hip mobility leads to increased stress on lumbar spine structures
      • Common pathologies include lumbar strains/sprains, joint restrictions, disc herniations, and fractures

Elbow injury from golf

      • Two primary sources of elbow injury: medial stress on the trail elbow (medial epicondylitis, or golfers elbow) and lateral stress on the lead elbow (lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow)
      • Due to amount of wrist action and control required during swing

Golf foot and ankle injuries

      • Acute injury (less common) involve sprains while transferring on/off tee box and in/pit of bunkers
      • Overuse injury (most common) include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinosis, tibialis posterior tendinosis, and peroneal tendinosis

Golf shoulder injuries

    • Three times more likely to involve lead shoulder
    • Most common overuse injuries
    • Common injuries include impingement, biceps tendinopathy, rotator cuff strains, and subacromial bursitis
    • Senior golfers more apt to experience rotator cuff disease or degenerative joint disease of the acromiolclavicular or glenohumeral joints

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.