According to statisticbrain.com, there are 29,000,000 golfers in the United States. Over nine percent of the U.S. population plays golf. With numbers this high, it is of little surprise that we often get asked about compression gear for golfers and their injuries. We recently published our first post in this two-part series: Golf Injury Series Part One: Elbow, Wrist, and Shoulder Injuries. Today, we complete the series by diving deeper into back, hip, and knee injuries that are all to familiar to golfers of every level.
Author Ioannis C. Zouzias, MD, reports that the forces placed on the low back with a golf swing are equivalent to up to eight times the body weight. This is an incredible load to bear and illustrates why low back injuries are the most common among golfers. Just imagine if the risks of low back injuries were mentioned at the end of a television commercial for golf, just as they are with advertised medications…no one would ever take up the sport of golf! Fortunately, though, as athletes, we overcome the risks involved due to the love of the sport.
Common back injuries include:
- Muscle sprains
- Stress fractures
- Herniated discs
- Spondylolisthesis (slipping of the spine)
- Arthropathy (pathology of the joints)
Please note that severe or prolonged pain merits a medical evaluation. Working with a health care provider or coach that understands the mechanics of golf can help with improving faulty technique, which often is the cause of pain. Flexibility and strength training may be beneficial as well. If support or compression is advised, the Adjustable Back Helix and Adjustable SI Joint Helix are excellent options that allow unrestricted motion. In addition, Body Helix compression provides increased blood flow to the injured tissues and muscles, prompting warmth and healing to the injured areas.
As with upper extremity issues, the culprit activity for lower extremity injuries in golfers is frequently related to overuse and the exceptional forces placed on the joints. Additionally, since underlying arthritis is more common in the hip and knee, mechanical dysfunction can exacerbate injuries and pain. Risk factors for hip injuries include low back pain and impaired internal rotation of the hips. In particular, restricted internal rotation (clockwise movement of the left hip in a right handed golfer) hampers proper mechanics and often worsens pre-existing problems.
Common hip problems among golfers:
- Impingement syndromes
- Labral and cartilage damage
- Degenerative arthritis
Noteworthy among the elite golfers is the inclusion of hip rotation activities both before and after training or competing. There are many excellent internet resources that demonstrate hip stretching activities. One I frequently recommend, due to its medical orientation, is the Mayo Clinic. Stretching is advised for at least 10 minutes before play but stretching and keeping muscles loose and warm while playing is equally important. Slow play can be a challenge since inactivity allows the muscles to stiffen up. Body Helix products are ideal for the common hip and back injuries golfers endure because the muscles and tendons are comfortably supported, kept warm, and mechanics of motion are not altered.
In common with most sports, knee injuries are provoked when the forces involved exceed the ability of the tissues to withstand the trauma. In golfers, the repeated rotation required during the swinging motion often challenges the knee ligaments and meniscus, causing injury. Acute and chronic knee pain merits a medical evaluation when prolonged or severe. In addition, proper technique is important to avoid the culprit movement or the problem will be sustained and, perhaps, worsened.
A knee compression sleeve is also advised during activity because it controls swelling, supports all the structures of the knee and increases proprioception (the sensory information that contributes to the sense of position of self and movement), helping avoid re-injury. Specifically, Body Helix compression knee sleeves are ideal for knee support, providing you with increased stability to your knee. A Helix will stretch up to 330%, keeping you from changing your swing and having to adjust to a bulky knee brace. It will stay in place and will support the damaged soft tissues and surrounding muscles and tendons.
PREVENTION OF THE INJURY CASCADE
All golfers would be well served to know the story of Dizzy Dean, an All-Star baseball pitcher during the 1930’s. His career ended because of a sore toe. The soreness caused him to change his stride, which then caused him to change is hip rotation. This then caused him to change his shoulder mechanics with each pitch, ultimately causing career ending damage to his shoulder. Golfers face the same challenge with one injury provoking another in this injury cascade.
Injury prevention and management is key to enjoying golf. The older athlete is at higher risk than the younger athlete who has the forgiveness of youth. As athletes get older, learning how to manage injuries becomes increasingly important. Key suggestions are summarized here:
- Warm up and cool down with emphasis on back flexibility and hip internal and external rotation.
- Review your mechanics with a professional so that abnormal mechanics can be corrected and culprit movements eliminated. Proper technique cannot be emphasized enough.
- Manage injuries with rest, ice and compression and elevation. Rest does not mean for a few hours… Use common sense and listen to your body.
- Select support and compression products that stretch more than the joint so that movements are not hampered and mechanics are preserved. Body Helix offers products for the back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle that satisfy these requirements and can be used for injury management and prevention.
For more information on injury management and prevention with Body Helix compression, contact us.