By Doreen Brown
NOT too many people consider golf a dangerous sport and certainly in comparison to football, it isn’t. However, there are a myriad of ways to become injured while playing golf with some of those injuries being serious or even fatal. Awareness of the possibility along with a few safety precautions will greatly reduce your risk of being hurt while golfing.
Many injuries in golf involve overuse of a certain muscle sets in repetitive motion. Golfer’s Elbow is one of the most common and is the inflammation of tendons that hold your forearm muscles to the bone at the elbow joint. Constant repetition of motion can cause damage to the muscles leading to pain. Similar to Golfer’s Elbow is Golfer’s Wrist with the same thing happening around the wrist as happens with the elbow. If the muscle is damaged badly enough, it can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, requiring surgery.
To lessen your chances of being plagued by these conditions, you can do simple exercises such as strengthening your forearm muscles and slowing your golf swing just a bit. Contact with the ball through a club, can be jarring to the wrist and elbow. Slowing the swing helps decrease the impact of the swing. Exercises that help include using small lightweight dumbbells for arm curls and hand exercises. Do curls with the dumbbells and also roll it from fingertip to palm and back again. Squeezing a tennis ball helps as well. Try to work these activities into a daily routine. It only takes a few minutes and can be done while watching TV or riding in a car.
Golfers can experience general muscle ache but the lower back is especially prone to pain. The stance of bending slightly with rigidity but rotating upon swing, can stress lower back muscles in ways you don’t feel throughout the normal routine of the day. If the pain is severe, you should check with a doctor but it could be your swing. Working with a coach for a few lessons on proper technique could help alleviate or reduce the pain. Also, use a caddy [you wish] for hauling the clubs in and out of the cart or from hole to hole. The extra stress from that activity alone may be causing more back trouble than the game itself. Most golfers don’t have access to a caddy but you can, for instance, be extra careful when lifting heavy golf bags in and out of car boots.
Golf courses are lightning magnets with green rolling hills, the occasional pond and tree line as well as players standing around holding metal clubs. While overall deaths by lightning strike has declined in recent years, the chance of being hit by lightning increases if you’re caught on the golf course when a storm pops up. Always be aware of your surroundings and look at the sky regularly. Check the weather on your cell device as sometimes lightning can strike from a storm 25 miles away. If a storm is headed your way, leave the course immediately. Trying to play through the 9th hole may just get you struck. No possible hole in one is worth the burn and pain, or possible death, from a lightning strike.
SUNBURN and DEHYDRATION
You wear more clothing on the golf course than the beach but sunburn is no less intense just because it covers less area. Use sunblock for exposed areas of skin and reapply as necessary. The neckline above the collar, tops of the ears, arms, hands, knees and legs are especially prone. Wear a cap or visor to protect face and eyes. Also, have water on hand. Although you’re not running around as you would in soccer, standing in the sun for hours at a time can be very dehydrating. If injury does occur, it will be worse if you’re not properly hydrated.
CARTS and BALLS
We often see comedic scenes in movies and on TV where people get hit by golf carts and balls. The fact is, these things happen regularly and aren’t likely to be accompanied by laughter in real life. Golf carts typically run on battery power and make very little noise so if you’re not paying attention, stepping out in front of one is possible. Falling out of a golf cart is common as well. When driving or riding in one, use the seat belt, stay on the proper path and remember, it’s a golf cart, not a race car.
Getting hit in the head isn’t unheard of but one way to reduce the chance of being hit, is staying where you’re supposed to be on the course. Strolling willy-nilly across the course without paying attention to the players ahead or behind can put you directly in the line of a flying golf ball.
STRETCH and ENJOY
As with any sport, warm up the muscles. Stretching and moving about before the first swing will be less stressful on your body overall. Relax and enjoy the game, time with friends and the sunshine on the course.
Bio: Doreen Brown writes articles for online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Hunter Valley Golf. She enjoys eating lots of chocolate and working this off with a good round of golf in her spare time.