How to Avoid Shoulder Pain While Playing Golf
Golf is a great sport – but, as with any athletic endeavor, injuries are always possible. People who play golf regularly are at risk of repetitive stress injuries, which can take place when any part of the body is subject to movement through the same range of motion over and over.
Every time you swing your club, there is a chance you might experience inflammation, stiffness, and other issues that could persist for some time after the game. This can be the result of acute injuries, which will typically present intense pain right away, or long-term repetitive stress injuries that may “come and go” with less pain overall.
Whatever the case, it’s important to be alert to the potential for injury. By taking action quickly, you can avoid injuries that might develop into permanent issues in the future.
What Parts of Your Shoulder Are at Risk When Playing Golf?
Although varying your golf swing can help protect you against some forms of injury, there will always be some danger to the structures of your shoulder. This is because virtually all parts of the arm and shoulder are intimately involved in a golf swing with good form. Some areas of the shoulder that could be at risk include:
- Rotator Cuff: The rotator cuff is the most common shoulder injury to be aware of when you play golf. This is the part of the shoulder that’s responsible for stabilizing it overall, and it consists of four muscles and tendons. It is prone to injury from overuse, even in non-athletic situations.
- Cartilage: Cartilage is flexible connective tissue found all throughout the body. It exists in a particularly dense concentration in the shoulders. When damaged, the injury is referred to as a labral tear. This is most common during the backswing and usually occurs in the back of the shoulder.
- Scapula: The scapula is also known as the shoulder blade. Although it is not recruited into the golf swing as deeply as other muscles, it can become sore through overwork and prone to more serious problems. Scapular complications are usually a secondary result of other golf injuries.
Tips for Avoiding Shoulder Pain While Playing Golf
Use Proper Form
Proper form is the key when avoiding golf injuries. Remember, shoulder motion should come after the hip and trunk motions when performing a downswing. Consistent soreness after a game, even without acute pain, is usually a sign that forms needs correction.
Use the Right Equipment
Longer clubs can help players who are experiencing limited range of motion due to injury or a surgery. In general, making sure your equipment is the right length and weight for you will help you perform better and avoid injuries more easily.
Consider Strength Training
Strength training of the back and shoulder muscles can help you reduce shoulder strain when you play golf. Targeted exercises should focus on the rotator cuff, scapula, major back muscles (the trapezius and latissimus) and the pectoralis – the large muscles of the chest.
When Should You Seek Medical Attention for Shoulder Pain?
If your shoulder starts to hurt during a game of golf, you should discontinue play right away. Don’t try to “play through the pain.” Not only will the discomfort worsen, but it will make the recovery longer than it would be otherwise.
Even if you are injured during a game, you should recover complete, pain-free range of motion quickly. If pain returns when you play again, or symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor to diagnose any underlying issues.