Golf Injuries and Chiropractic Treatment

According to the National Golf Foundation, there are over 29 million golfers in the US which accounts for 9.6% of the population, as cited on Statistic Brain.  It wouldn’t take long, using the reliable powers of deduction and watching golfers on the course, to ascertain that this is one of the more male dominated sports with men making up 77.5% of the athletes in this field.  This largely affluent and educated group of individuals still succumb to the human body’s imperfections and sustain injuries.  With 95% of all golfers falling in the age range of 30+ years, it’s easy to assume that the “computer and commuter centric” lifestyles that we live as adults don’t positively contribute to the flexibility and core strength that are actually needed for prevention of golfing injuries and to play at the top of your game.

North Carolina has no shortage of golf courses, in fact there are 664 available.  The inviting landscapes and challenging fairways beckon to amateur and professional golfers and every type in between.  SouthEast Chiropractors: The Motion Centers, in Belmont and Gastonia, have seen no shortage of golfing related injuries come through their centers and have expertise and experience in helping to get an injured golfer back to the greens. The most frequently encountered golfing related injuries and some of the modalities and chiropractic solutions employed by SouthEast Chiropractic to resolve the pain and injury are detailed below.

Types of Golfing Injuries & Chiropractic Solutions

Back Injury-

Golf requires a fixed footing position, leading to the majority of the rotation occurring in the lower extremities and the lower back.  Spreading the rotation across the entire body, not just isolating the pivot to the lower back, helps to ward off injury. Unfortunately, many recreational golfers who play regularly are ideal candidates for this type of injury, as their swing motion may be fundamentally poor.  Back pain and injuries make up the vast majority of injuries in the game of golf.  One of the key actions the golfer can take at the onset of any back pain is early self-awareness and recognizing a remedy on the front end can keep from aggravating the situation and enable the golfer to keep up the game.

Chiropractic evaluation will first assess if the back injury is a mechanical one, meaning it is aggravated by the activity and improved with rest.  Chiropractic care for this type of back injury and pain has a fantastic prognosis.  Pulled muscles in the back are also nicely suited to chiropractic manipulation and respond well to stretching, strengthening, and passive modalities.  The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body and can cause radiating pain and numbness, alternatively called Sciatica.  Chiropractic treatment for sciatica typically includes adjustments, stretching, ultrasound and ice therapies.

Muscle Pulls

Golf involves a “one sided dominance” in body stresses.  With a golfers swing being either left or right, their body can begin to see strain on their dominant side.  This imbalance of muscle development, if not evened by core conditioning and whole body strengthening, can easily translate into pain from pulled muscles.  Other factors that can lead to pulled muscles are insufficient warm-ups, lack of stretching, poor flexibility and not having a strengthening routine outside of swinging the club. 

A chiropractor may evaluate your pulled muscle and apply one or many modalities to treat the pain and trauma to the affected muscle.  Chiropractic care for pulled muscles can realign the spine and posture of the golfer to prevent the pulled muscle from becoming more aggravated and to keep the patient from overcompensating for the pain and transferring the problem to another area.  Hot/cold compresses, acupuncture, and assignment of exercises and stretching specifically addressing the injured or overcompensated area may also be utilized by the chiropractor for the healing and treatment of the pulled muscle.

Knee/Thigh Injury

The femur is the longest bone and the knee is the largest joint in the human body.  The knee is inherently weak, as it joins in soft cartilage the longest bone with the weight bearing tibia.  Fortunately for us humans, the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the knee are very strong.  Chiropractors see many culprits of problems in the knee/thigh area for golfers, ranging from muscle weakness, poor posture or mechanics, overuse, and even poorly fitted shoes.  These can manifest into muscle strain, tendonitis at the knee, sprains or tears of the ligaments, hamstring/quadriceps pulls, and specifically in women, an unhealthy lateral pulling of the knee via over exaggerating hip movement.

Chiropractic care of an injured golfer’s knee will begin with an assessment of the biomechanics of the individual, and the elimination of deferred pain from another part of the body to the knee and thigh area prior to looking at the surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons.  Reduction of inflammation and aggravation to the area must happen first and likely entails decreased activity and with modalities like ice, ultrasound, and electrotherapy (or interferential therapy).  The last step in addressing an injured knee is the strengthening and flexibility of the weakened muscle or joint and taking steps to alter the patterns of behavior that caused the injury in the first place.

Hip and Pelvis Injury

The hip is the body center and the strongest joint in the body. Flexibility and health at the hip structure is imperative as the entire body’s motion centers around the hip and pelvis.  Hip strain can result from the violent twisting motion of the torso with planted feet which is the definition of the golf swing.  Other injuries that can affect the hip area include groin pulls, illiotibial band syndrome, and degenerative joint disease. 

Many of the hip and pelvic injuries seen by chiropractors are best resolved with the dreaded “time off” from the game.  Support and stabilization of the muscles and hip joint happen initially and the chiropractic treatment may extend to rehabilitation, exercise, stretching, and possibly orthotics. 

Shoulder/Elbow/Wrist and Hand Injuries

Statistics stated in a Chiropractic & Osteopathy presentation by Andrew J McHardy and Henry P Pollard, Golf and Upper Limb Injuries: A Summary and Review of the Literature, show numerous indications about arm injuries and golf. The injuries sustained to the elbow and wrist along with the back make up 80% of all golfing injuries.  Most injuries involving the arm and arm joints occur at the moment of impact.

Shoulder injuries in golf make up 8-18% of all golfing injuries seen. Shoulder injuries are most commonly found in the lead shoulder and are largely the result of the huge range of motion (ROM) in the dynamic swing allowing for numerous opportunities for poor mechanics- the backswing, the point of impact, and the end of the follow through.  Determining the point in the swing that is causing the pain will help to facilitate the diagnosis for relieving the pain and addressing the culprit of the problem.

Amateurs and females are particularly prone to elbow injuries in golf.  McHardy and Pollard show that 25-33% of all injuries seen in amateurs and only 7-10% of injuries in professionals relate to the elbow.  One can accurately deduce that the vast difference in elbow injuries between pros and novice players comes from fundamental skill level and a decreased chance of missed swings or poor form. Hence, the observation of an elbow injury in an amateur golfer would lead a medical professional, including your chiropractor, to first analyze if the swing is the issue and then assess beyond that point.  For the 22.5% of golfers that are female, the skeletal differences, largely attributable to wider hips, results in an increased carrying angle and higher propensity for elbow injuries.  This is a classic manifestation of a problem due to transferred negative impact and the swing/hip rotation should be addressed during treatment.

The anchor point of the club to the body is in the hand and wrist.  Repetitive “microtrauma” to this juncture can result in muscle and ligament strain and tendonitis common in amateurs.  20-27% of all injuries seen in professional golfers occur at the hand and wrist whereas only 13-20% of amateurs experience hand or wrist problems and pain.  Overuse and poor swing mechanics should be considered in the initial chiropractic evaluation.  Excercises and other modalities will be implemented to address the pain and to strengthen the problem area.

Chiropractic Conclusion

The golf swing is a combination of static and dynamic states.  Proper posture during the swing is determined by the strength, flexibility, and fitness level of each golfer.  Poor posture in golf limits the spinal rotation and the speed of the golf club head which results in jaunty backswings, an overswing, or swinging to fast, all of these can evolve into repetitive strains and even disc injury. 

Flexibility and proper posture are key ingredients to improving golf games and to playing without sustaining an injury. Ironically, chiropractic care will aim to improve flexibility and ascertain proper posture for the patient, regardless of sport affiliation.  So, natural solutions and addressing issues on the front end with an experienced chiropractor at SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers will help to strengthen the golfing muscles, increase flexibility, assess biomechanics of each individual, and treat any pain sustained from one of the aforementioned golfing injuries with a wide selection of modalities and adjustment options.  SouthEast Chiropractic focuses on wellness and knows that your leisure, social, and possibly professional sports are your pleasure, and no one wants to be told that they cannot participate.  Our chiropractors will work with you to get you back to your game, better than before and with an educated knowledge of methods to improve your swing, posture, and strength so that future injuries can be avoided.

If you have been experiencing pain or injury from golfing, don't hesitate to start your path to recovery with a free consultation from Southeast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers.  Just click the button below and submit your request!