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Swinging for Wellness: The Hidden Health Benefits of Golf

June 29, 2023 5 min read

Swinging for Wellness: The Hidden Health Benefits of Golf

Golf is a popular sport that provides numerous physical and mental advantages. Golf delivers a complete experience for players of all ages and ability levels, from enjoying the great outdoors to boosting cardiovascular health and mental focus (“Golf: Health Benefits,” n.d.). Golf, like any other physical exercise, may increase the risk of certain injuries. Conversely, golf may be incorporated into the rehabilitation process post injury.  

Golf offers a range of advantages, including promoting social interaction and providing a low-impact form of exercise (“Golf: Health Benefits,” n.d.). It also allows players to enjoy the beauty of nature, which can be a great stress reliever. Additionally, golf helps improve hand-eye coordination, concentration skills, and stability, making it a mentally stimulating activity (Juber, 2022). Golfing provides benefits to both the heart and the lungs, endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility through walking, swinging, and carrying clubs.  Golf demands concentration, focus, and strategic thinking; nature and golf courses can reduce stress and improve mental well-being (Juber, 2022).  

Golf is frequently played with friends, family, or colleagues, providing opportunities for socializing and relationship building (“Golf: Health Benefits,” n.d.).  Golf courses are frequently located in stunning settings surrounded by lush vegetation. Spending time outside may improve your outlook & attitude, sense of wellbeing, and contentment.

While golf is a low-impact activity in general, several injuries can develop if you have poor technique or form, including golfer's elbow, lower back pain, rotator cuff injuries, and knee strains.  Golfer's elbow is a condition that results from repetitive swinging motions and causes pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow. Tennis elbow, a condition also resulting from repetitive use, results in pain and inflammation in the outer aspect of the elbow (“Common Golf Injuries: Techniques and Prevention | UPMC,” n.d.).  To avoid this, players should practice effective grip and swing mechanics, warm up properly, and use equipment that is appropriate for their size and swing style.  

Wrist injuries may also result from poor grip and swing mechanics (“10 Most Common (and Avoidable) Golf Injuries: Athletic Edge Sports Medicine,” 2019).  To prevent this, it's important to build up the strength within the wrists and forearms, in addition to incorporating stretching and mobility drills for the wrist, elbow, and shoulders during warm-up.  The Rolflex can be a great product for preventing and managing golfer's elbow, tennis elbow, and wrist strains, as it does a great job at releasing the muscles of the forearm.  It can be used elsewhere on the body, including the calves and neck, to help alleviate muscle tension.  

Lower back pain may result from the asymmetrical movement that a golf swing applies to the spine (“10 Most Common (and Avoidable) Golf Injuries: Athletic Edge Sports Medicine,” 2019). The rotating movement of golf swings can cause lower back discomfort. Maintaining proper posture, engaging in flexibility exercises, and performing core-strengthening exercises can all help you avoid this injury.  Individuals may find that laying on a foam roller or a Beam may help relax and release the muscles along the spine and relax the body after a round of golf. 

The repetitive nature of swinging a golf club, which is a long lever, can result in shoulder, specifically rotator cuff, ailments (“10 Most Common (and Avoidable) Golf Injuries: Athletic Edge Sports Medicine,” 2019); “Common Golf Injuries: Techniques and Prevention | UPMC,” n.d.). Warming up the shoulder muscles prior to playing and progressively increasing swing intensity are critical. Cross training for the muscles of the chest, back, and arms in addition to the shoulder muscles can help prevent injuries.  A GolfGym Power Swing kit from Fitterfirst is ideal for strengthening the muscles of the shoulder while practicing your grip and swing technique.  

The twisting motion of the golf swing can cause knee strain, particularly to the ACL (“10 Most Common (and Avoidable) Golf Injuries: Athletic Edge Sports Medicine,” 2019). For some, walking the course over time may result in arthritic changes in the knee joint.  Using supportive footwear, employing good walking and swing mechanics, and maintaining overall leg strength, especially the hamstrings, can all help lower the risk of knee discomfort.  Performing exercises on a balance pad or board can change the proprioceptors throughout the body and be a great option to incorporate into your cross training for all activities, not just golf.

Golf can help improve your cardiovascular fitness if you walk the course. However, it is not always realistic or possible to walk the entire course.  Some ways that you may incorporate more walking into your game may be through alternative cart usage. If you normally ride in a golf cart, take turns driving the cart and walking with your playing partner. This allows both people to take more steps throughout the round than they would by only driving the golf cart.  

Take advantage of  the walking paths. Several golf courses have designated walking paths between holes. Make an attempt to walk on these trails rather than taking shortcuts across fairways.  If the course isn't busy, it may be possible to take a seat and rest if needed while walking the course.  This is not always an option, however, so please be aware of any regulations or if the course is experiencing a peak in traffic.  

Golf simulators, which imitate the feeling of playing golf indoors, can be useful instruments in the treatment of injuries. They provide a safe setting in which people can focus on regaining strength, flexibility, and technique while reducing the danger of exacerbating an existing injury. Individuals can gradually reintroduce themselves to the activity by using a golf simulator while working with their healthcare specialists and golf pros to monitor their development and avoid further damage.  Alberta Health Services recently published an article on Glenrose and the services available to individuals who require rehabilitation and would like to get into or return to golf for conditions including stroke, amputations, and brain injuries, to name a few.  

Click here to read the full article: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/Page17407.aspx

Golf has numerous advantages for both physical and emotional well-being. Yet, it is critical to be aware of the potential injuries that may occur with the sport and to take precautions. Golfers can dramatically reduce their risk of common golf-related injuries by using the right practices, warming up, and maintaining general health. If you are new to golf or unsure of proper technique, lessons may be a great solution.  Exploring techniques to improve step count during a round of golf can also help you live a more active and health-conscious lifestyle. Finally, golf simulators can help in the rehabilitation process for a variety of injuries by providing a controlled environment for players to restore strength and skills. So take your clubs, head out to the course, and enjoy the many advantages that golf has to offer.


References

10 Most Common (and Avoidable) Golf Injuries: Athletic Edge Sports Medicine (2019, August 29) Retrieved June 24, 2023, from https://www.aesmphysiotherapytoronto.ca/10-most-common-and-avoidable-golf-injuries/

 Common Golf Injuries: Techniques and Prevention, UPMC (n.d.) Retrieved June 25, 2023, from https://www.upmc.com/services/sports-medicine/for-athletes/golf

 Golf: Health Benefits (n.d.) Retrieved June 25, 2023, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/golf-health-benefits

 Juber (2022, July 19). Health Benefits of Golf Retrieved June 24, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/health-benefits-of-golf