The PGA Championship kicks off today at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. Will North Texas’ hometown boy Jordan Spieth take home the Wanamaker Trophy? If so, Spieth will become just the fourth player in history to win three majors in one year, and the first since Tiger Woods won three majors—the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship—in 2000.
Whether you want to go pro like Tiger Woods or Jordan Spieth or simply enjoy a good, leisurely game of golf, it’s important to take care of your body in order to prevent injury. Golf is a low-impact sport, but still players (even pros) are plagued with injuries, often due to overuse or poor mechanics. The most common golf injuries include lower back injuries and injuries to the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
How to Prevent Common Golf Injuries
The good news is that the most common injuries to golfers—those caused by overuse or poor mechanics—are preventable. Here are some tips to help you avoid a golf injury.
1. Get coaching. Lower back injuries are the most common golf injuries, and these are most often the result of poor swing mechanics. Adjusting your golf swing with the help of a golf coach can help prevent a back injury. Check your posture, keep your swing smooth by carefully transferring weight from your ankles through your body to your wrists, and avoid over-swinging. A relaxed, easy swing is best for your back. (As an added bonus, taking lessons can help improve your overall game!)
2. Warm up.As with any exercise, it’s important to allow your muscles to warm up before you hit the golf course. Take a brisk walk and do some dynamic stretching (walking lunges, squats, high kicks, etc.) for at least 10 minutes before you hit the course. Taking time to warm up will improve your flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
“Injuries can occur during a round of golf or a session on the driving range just as they can in any other sport,” says Dr. Todd Moen, M.D. “An effective way to minimize injuries while playing golf is to properly stretch and warm up prior to play. An efficient stretching routine coupled with a short warm up will prepare your body to play your best and diminish the risk of injury.”
3. Focus on strength. When you’re not on the golf course, it’s important to work on improving your strength and flexibility through strength training exercises, including weight lifting and bodyweight exercises. Stronger muscles will improve your game and make you less prone to injury.
4. Build endurance.Don’t jump right into playing 18 holes day after day or spending hours working on your swing. You must gradually condition your body for the strain of golf, so start slowly. Spend time off the course doing regular aerobic activity, such as jogging, swimming or cycling, to build your endurance.
5. Get the right shoes. Even if you aren’t a golf pro, it’s important to wear the right golf shoes. Take some time to get fitted for a pair of shoes. If the cleats are too long, your feet won’t have the flexibility and mobility they need during a swing, and you could end up with knee or ankle strain.
No matter what sport you play, it’s important to be smart. Listen to your body and don’t push it if something feels off. Golf is no different. If you want to enjoy the game injury-free for years to come, be smart, practice proper mechanics and ask for coaching.