Avoiding Golf Related Injuries
by Ryann Roberts, DPT, Cert. DN, TPI Certified Medical Professional

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you’re sitting in front of the television watching the final round of this week’s golf event. And then you hear the line that drives all of us nuts – “his swing just looks so effortless and smooth.” We’re mesmerized watching the replays, wondering how does he do it, why can’t I do it, and what am I doing wrong? We average golfers know that swinging our club is anything but effortless.

It is important to remember that while a golf swing requires a nice, steady tempo, it is also a very violent activity requiring balance, rotation, muscle activation and range of motion. That effortless swing you just watched in slow motion takes PGA golfers hours upon hours on a range fine-tuning their craft. Today’s golfer needs to train their body vigorously if they want to avoid injury and continue to perform at their best.

So while I can’t guarantee your movement up the charts in the latest world rankings, I can promise you following the below regimen will reduce your risk of injury, strengthen the necessary muscles, and help you increase the range of motion that theoretically will improve your chances for that effortless swing we all crave.

Keep in mind; it is extremely important to continue stretching on a daily basis to allow the muscles to elongate in order to perform correctly on game day. It is equally as important to get your body ready for the activity. You never want to just show up to the first tee without warming up if you want to avoid injury. These below tips include everything you need to do on non-golf days along with how to get yourself ready before you leave for the course, when you’re on the range, and eventually, after you tee it up on the first hole.

Pre-Round Warm Up

Ankle Rolls

  • Stand and stabilize yourself with a golf club
  • Roll each foot clockwise 10 times
  • Roll each foot counterclockwise 10 times

Mini Squats

  • Use both hands on a golf club to stabilize
  • Bend at the hips and knees into a “squat” position
  • Maintain a “neutral” spine with all motions of your hips and knees
  • Sit back as if sitting into a chair to allow your knees to stay over your toes throughout the entire squat
  • Squat 12-20 inches (or more if you’re comfortable) 10 times

Hip Swing Through

  • Stabilize yourself with a golf club and swing one leg forward and backward like a pendulum
  • Start with small motions and increase the range with each repetition
  • You should feel a stretch in the front and back of your thighs
  • Complete 10-15 swings per leg

Hip Swing Across

  • With same set up as above, swing your leg straight out to one side and then back across your body
  • You should feel a stretch on the inside of your thigh
  • Complete 10-15 swings per leg

Spine Rotation

  • Hold a golf club across the small of your back with the inside of your elbows
  • This position will help maintain proper posture
  • Rotate at a moderate speed 10-15 times in each direction

180° Head Rolls

  • Stabilize yourself with a golf club, bring your shoulders back and have good posture
  • Tilt your head back until you feel a stretch on the front of your neck
  • Roll your head back and forth to either side slowly
  • Repeat 10 times in direction

Shoulder Shrugs

  • Make sure you begin with good posture
  • Roll your shoulders backwards then forwards slowly
  • Complete 15 reps for each shoulder

Shoulder Circles

  • With your arms straight out to your side, do 10 ‘big’ circles forward and backward
  • Side to Side Shoulder Stretch
  • Begin in a golf stance
    Shift your weight to the right while bringing your left arm across your chest
  • Use your right arm to pull your left arm for a stretch
  • Then shift your weight to the left while pulling your right arm across your body
  • Repeat this 5 times for each arm

Daily Exercise Regimen

Calf Stretch

  • Stand with your hand on a golf club, wall, or golf cart
  • Place one foot behind you and the other in front
  • Bend the knee on the leg in front until you feel a stretch in the back leg
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds
  • Perform this 4 times on each leg

Quadriceps Stretch on Wall

  • Begin standing with your back against the wall
  • Slowly bend one knee and slowly slide the foot up the wall
  • Arms can be on the wall or golf club for support
  • Tuck your tail and hold the stretch
  • If this is too easy, use your hand to pull the foot upwards
  • Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds
  • Perform this stretch 4 times on each leg

Hamstring Stretch

  • Stand upright and place your heel on a step, chair, or golf cart
  • While keeping your trunk straight, lean forward toward your toes
  • You should feel a stretch/pull on the back of your thigh
  • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds
  • Perform this stretch 4 times on each leg

Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Kneel onto one knee, you may use a pillow or mat under your knee for comfort
  • A golf club or chair may be used for support
  • Allow your hips to sink toward your front heel while maintaining an upright torso
  • You should feel a stretch at the front of the hip of the back leg
  • Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds
  • Perform this stretch 3-4 times per leg

Hip Adductor Stretch

  • Start in a standing position with feet at shoulder width
  • Use a golf club for support
  • Slowly bend one knee and lean towards the same side
  • You should feel a stretch on the inside of the opposite leg
  • Hold the position for 20-30 seconds
  • Perform this stretch 3-4 times per leg

Piriformis Stretch

  • Sit in a chair with proper posture
  • Place one ankle of the opposite knee and lean forward
  • You should feel a pull or stretch in the hip and butt area
  • Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, 3-4 times per side

Bent Over Trunk Rotation

  • Hold golf club in front of you with both hands on top of grip
  • As you lean forward, rotate your shoulder and torso
  • You should feel a stretch on either side
  • Hold this position for 10-15 seconds
  • Perform this movement 3-4 times per side

Spine Rotation

  • Hold a golf club across the small of your back with the inside of your elbows
  • This position will help maintain proper position
  • Hold at the end range for 5 seconds
  • Repeat this on each side 10 times

Cervical Side Bending Stretch

  • Gently lower your head to one side, try to touch shoulder with ear
  • To get more of a stretch, apply pressure with your hand
  • Hold this position for 15-20 seconds
  • Perform this stretch 3 times on each side

Shoulder Stretch With Club

  • Hold golf club in each hand
  • Use opposite arm & golf club to push the arm into further motion
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds
  • Perform this stretch 3 times per shoulder

Spine Progression A

  • Take a staggered stance with one foot in front of the other
  • Place your palms together with arms fully extended
  • Slowly move your left arm in an arc around your body (parallel to the ground)
  • Follow your hand with your head
  • Continue rotating until the left arm is pointing in the opposite direction as the right
  • Perform 10 repetitions with each arm

Spine progression A-2

  • Now perform the same motions as above but instead of a staggered upright stance, assume a standard golf posture

Spine Progression B

  • Stand with feet at shoulder-width and assume a mini squat stance
  • Bring arm to your side, elbows flexed to 90° and form a fist
  • Similar to a crouching position as if you were delivering an upper cut
  • Next twist your body the opposite way while standing and extending your arm
  • The motion should look similar to throwing a punch across your body
  • Perform 10 repetitions per arm

Bent Over Rows

  • With proper posture, bend at the hips with a slight bend in the knees
  • Maintain a straight back
  • Fully extend your arms while holding a golf club, dumbbells or soup cans
  • Pull arms up towards the chest while pinching your shoulder blades together
  • Perform 15 repetitions

Gluteal Kick Backs

  • Begin by standing with feet at shoulder-width
  • Use a golf club for balance if needed
  • Put weight on the right leg with a slight bend
  • Extend your left leg back as far as you can while maintaining balance
  • Perform 15 repetitions with each leg

Pronation/Supination with Club

  • Begin by standing with feet at shoulder-width
  • Use a golf club or broom stick and hold it straight out in front of you
  • If holding a club, your hand should be on the grip
  • While keeping your arm straight, rotate your wrist back and forth
  • Do not go past parallel
  • Perform 15 repetitions with each arm

Mix and match the daily exercises by choosing 3-4 on one day, a different 3-4 the next, and so on. Or, choose 3-4 different exercises to complete in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Your goal is to complete these exercises at least 2-3 times per week. However, if any of the exercises cause pain, stop immediately and do not return to that specific exercise until your form and technique is assessed.

At AZOPT, our licensed physical therapists treat golfers with pain and/or limitations every day. Our Doctors are experts in the biomechanics of the body and the swing, and can effectively address your concerns through a mix of manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, and strength training. Please call us at (623) 242-6908 or visit us online at www.AZOPT.net to schedule an evaluation today!