Injuries occur to golfers of all ages and ability levels, and can significantly affect their golf game and daily life. Those who fail to warm up adequately appear to be putting themselves at greater risk of injury.

The survey involved 304 golfers, who revealed their golf activities, injury status and warm-up habits over a 12-month period. About a third of the golfers (111, or 36.5 percent) reported an injury, most frequently to the lower back, shoulder or elbow. Strains were by far the most commonly reported type of injury (37.8 percent). Other types of injuries included stiffness, inflammation, tendonitis, and sprains and, less commonly, pinched nerves, fractures, heel spurs and contusions or dislocations.

”Only a small percentage of golfers were shown to perform an appropriate warm-up prior to play or practice. The message isn’t getting across,” said Andrea Fradkin, lead author of the study.  “Golf professionals need to tell golfers to warm up, and not just hit balls.”

A full warm-up, she explained, consists of three components:
1. Aerobic exercise to increase muscle temperature
2. Sport-specific stretching (including stretching the shoulder, trunk, chest, lower back, hamstrings, forearm, and wrist)
3. Activity similar to the event, starting slowly and building in intensity (For golf, this might consist of air swings involving the club but not the ball)

Only three percent of golfers surveyed regularly performed two or more of the components, leaving them vulnerable to injury.

Fradkin and her colleagues noted that the frequency and types of injuries varied according to the golfers’ age and skill level. More experienced players—who play more often—tended to sustain more back injuries, while those with higher handicaps suffered more injuries to their hips, elbows and knees due to poor swing mechanics. Researchers noted that older golfers are likely to sustain more groin injuries due to a decrease in hip strength, and more knee and foot injuries due to degeneration of those joints.

According to Fradkin, this study underscored the results of her previous research into golfing injuries, while shedding new light. “This is the first study to look at the age, gender and handicap of injured golfers. Only two studies have looked retrospectively at injuries sustained over a 12-month period.”

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Article adapted by MD Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Contact: Communications and Public Information
American College of Sports Medicine

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

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