-- Golf can be played competitively or just for leisure,
and for professional players on the 2010
Tour, the game is probably a combination of both. The
game demands skill and physical discipline because
improper technique can lead to discomfort, minor injury,
or even joint replacement. Whether on
the golf course or at the driving range, your swing and
technique can make or break a game, and in many cases,
help avoid or cause pain. The
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
recommends that golfers maintain proper form and take it
slow when playing golf to avoid injury and to stay on
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC), more than 115,000 Americans were
treated for golf-related injuries in 2009.
Golfers most often suffer from hand tenderness or
numbness; shoulder, back and knee pain; golfer’s
elbow; and wrist injuries, such as tendonitis or
carpal tunnel syndrome.
Over 360,000 men and women, ages 45 to 64 had a
total hip replacement or total knee replacement in
2008, according to the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality (AHRQ).
“Golfers – especially beginners, who haven’t learned
proper techniques yet – are more susceptible to injuries
from overuse and poor mechanics,” said orthopaedic
Alexander Raskin, MD. “It’s important for golfers to
regularly participate in a muscle conditioning program
to reduce the risk of common golf injuries.”
In an effort to reduce
golf injuries, many of which are treated by
orthopaedic surgeons, the AAOS recommends the following
golf injury-prevention tips:
Dress for comfort and make sure to wear the
appropriate golf shoes; short cleats are best on the
Do not hunch your neck or shoulders over the ball;
it may predispose you to neck strain and rotator
To avoid golfer’s elbow, caused by a strain of the
muscles in the inside of the forearm -- perform
wrist and forearm stretching exercises and try not
to overemphasize your wrists when swinging.
To avoid lower back pain caused by a poor swing --
try rowing and/or pull down exercises to improve
flexibility and muscle strength.
Those who are recovering from a joint replacement should
take additional precautions as they transition back into
their golf game.
“As an orthopaedic surgeon and an avid golfer who
underwent a knee replacement three years ago, I have a
realistic grasp on the recovery process,” said
Francis Burns Kelly, MD. “People who are trying to
get back on the course after a joint replacement must
listen to their body if they are experiencing any pain
or discomfort. It’s so important for them to ease into
the game until they are back to full strength.”
To return to golf after hip or
knee replacement, the AAOS suggests the following
safety guidelines below:
Always warm up and stretch well before playing, but
avoid undue strain on your replaced joint.
Get back into the game slowly. Begin with chipping
and putting before hitting irons and then woods.
Also, it is best to play just nine holes initially;
once this can be done comfortably you can try a full
Use a riding cart initially. Those who like to walk
while playing should wait until they can play
comfortably with a cart and then try walking. It’s
best to use a pull cart rather than carrying your
Be aware of weather conditions; wet weather can
predispose you to falls, especially when the legs
are still weak.
Use “soft spikes” (required by most courses now) or
even tennis shoes (if ground is not wet). This will
reduce torque on the hip and knee.
Don’t get frustrated when you resume playing. You
may not hit the ball as far as you did prior to
surgery because the leg will be weak; this will get
better as strength returns.
Be careful about squatting down to line up a putt.
This can put too much pressure on the knee and could
possibly cause a dislocation of a hip prosthesis.
Continue a regular exercise program to maintain as
much strength in the leg as possible.