Learning to Play Golf Pain Free Can Also Help Your Score

June 29, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 29 /PRNewswire/ — Playing golf pain-free is not only more enjoyable than playing in pain, but it can also improve your scores.

The average golfer takes between 45 and 60 full-length swings over a four-hour round, and 80 percent of us shoot over 100.

“That equals a lot of stress on our bodies,” said Dr. Jon-David Hoppenfeld, a physician with Southeast Pain Care in Charlotte, NC. “Golfers can experience everything from elbow to shoulder pain, but the most prevalent pain associated with the game occurs in the back.”

By warming up and getting a lesson from a professional, your chances of getting injured are less, but if an injury does occur there are several solutions to getting you back on the course pain free.

So why pain?

The golf swing consists of numerous repetitive movements centered on the back and abdominal muscles. During each golf swing, your spine absorbs eight times your body weight in pressure.

It is important to start with a proper set-up. When a golfer begins the take-away, the stomach muscles tighten, providing core strength and protecting the back from initial or further injury. When the golfer gets to the top of the take-away, stress is felt in the joints on the side of the back, and shoulder joint rotation at this point is primarily controlled by the rotator cuff.

“Back pain occurs when golfers come out of position at this point of the swing by standing up,” Dr. Hoppenfeld explains. “This straightening motion also leads to inconsistent ball striking.”

The downswing generates acceleration by snapping the stretched stomach muscles back into place like a rubber band. This downward shift is the phase in the golf swing when most injuries occur. At impact, rotational force is transferred to the leg and hip, and this repetition of weight transfer to the hip can be a source of pain for some golfers. And if the deceleration of the club occurs too quickly through to the finish, it increases stress on the low back.

How to Prevent

Performing a proper warm-up routine before you play is vital for keeping your golf swing healthy and preventing injury. Among other things, a warm up will increase your heart rate and the temperature of your tissues.

“This temperature boost enhances muscle elasticity and promotes more efficient muscular contraction,” Dr. Hoppenfeld clarifies.

A proper warm-up routine includes increasing your heart rate, followed by stretching, and finally a gradual build-up of your full swing. The best time to stretch is after your muscles are warmed up, not before.

Another essential component in pain prevention is strengthening core muscles, as it takes pressure off of the spine, which will also help to improve your swing dynamics and avoid injury. The best way to fortify your core is to start an individually designed exercise program focusing on your abdominal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings and back.

Combined with core strengthening, one of the more obvious ways to help prevent injury is to arrange for a lesson from a professional.

“Even Phil Mickelson has a swing coach,” Dr. Hoppenfeld points out. “A lesson can make a big difference–at the very least by simply ensuring that your clubs are fit properly.”


If a golf injury forces you to take some time away from the sport, don’t give up on the idea of getting back out on the course at full swing. While it is best to prevent injury, there are a number of ways to treat these types of pain. Conservative methods consist of the use of anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Depending on the diagnosis, often a shot of cortisone or a procedure called radiofrequency, in which nerves transmitting painful impulses are cauterized with a needle, can aid in a quick recovery.

The earlier you intervene, the better results you achieve. Making an appointment to see your doctor immediately is the best way to achieve effective results if an injury does occur.

Even the best–Fred Couples, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Kite–all had significant injuries that jeopardized their careers, but with a good warm up and lesson from a professional, your chances of getting injured are less. And if an injury does occur, your doctor can offer common sense solutions to getting you back on the course pain free.


Southeast Pain Care treats patients with a wide range of pain conditions, including acute pain from back injury, headaches and pain resulting from accidents or injuries or disease processes, such as diabetes. Physicians and staff at Southeast Pain Care provide patients with custom-tailored, multi-faceted treatment plans for addressing pain. On the web at www.sepaincare.com.

SOURCE Southeast Pain Care

Source: newswire

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