With spring upon us, avid golfers are ready to hit the links. Although golf is a low-impact sport, it requires a lot of skill and technique. The swing can put a great deal of stress on the body, including your hips and ACL. It is important to note that you don’t have to be a professional to experience pain from golfing, recreational golfers can sustain injuries as well.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an important ligament that stabilizes the knee joint during movements such as rotation of the body when swinging your golf club. Tearing your ACL, as a result of over-rotating or twisting your knee during a golf game, usually requires surgery, and can keep you out of the game for months.
In addition, the hips are another key area on which most golfers focus for the perfect swing. Rotation of the hips help you move your weight back and forth, produce power and keep your club in the correct plane. The main cause of hip pain while golfing stems from the intense pressure placed on the joint and surrounding muscles during rotation. Moving your hips incorrectly could cause you a lot of pain and a trip to the surgeon.
Fortunately, these injuries may be prevented by following the below guidelines while playing golf:
Warm Up & Stretch– You should always warm up before you tee off to avoid pulling any muscles. In addition, regular stretching will help to loosen your muscles, improve blood flow, and keep the joints supple.
Proper Technique– Executing your swing smoothly but not too hard can keep your hip muscles and joints pressure-free. Keeping your back straight, feet planted shoulder-width apart and equally distributing your balance on both legs can reduce the amount of strain put on your back, hips and neck.
Strengthen your Muscles– The stronger your muscles are; the more power you can produce on the course. However, strong muscles are not just useful for the perfect swing, they are less prone to injury. Strength training a couple times a week can help keep you pain-free!
Take it Easy– If you are a beginner or have taken a break from the game, it is equally important to take it easy when you first get on the course. Statistics show that many golf injuries result in an absence from the game of at least a month. If your body is no longer conditioned for the movement involved in the game, excessive playing right off the bat may do more harm than good.
Carry Equipment Carefully– It is important to be cautious when lifting and carrying your equipment. A full bag of clubs can weigh between 25 and 35 pounds. This weight on your body can increase your risk of injury before you even step onto the course.
Wear the Right Footwear– Golf shoes are a must. Golf shoes provide more arch support and traction than regular gym shoes. It is best to avoid long cleats as they tend to sink into the sod and hold your feet planted as you swing, which can strain your body. Look for a pair with short cleats. If you have a hip injury, consider wearing shoes without cleats, which will allow your feet to do some of the rotating, and your hips to do less.
Stay Hydrated– Staying hydrated is very important especially when playing directly in the sun. Golfing 18-holes averages around four hours for a foursome of average players. This means that even if it doesn’t seem that hot, hours of standing in the sun can dehydrate your body. Remember to look for shade on the course and keep water close by to prevent heat injuries.
Watch Your Step– The uneven terrain of the golf course may be nice aesthetically, but it may not be so nice on your body. Take care when walking on the course, especially downhill and climbing in and out of a sand trap.
Treatment of a torn ACL and injured hip is often reconstructive surgery. A complete recovery from surgery to sport takes four to six months. Following these tips may decrease your risk of hip and ACL injuries so you can spend less time at the doctor and more time on the green.