Prevent Golf Injuries with Fitness, Proper Grip and Swing

Prevent golf injuries with fitness, and instruction on grip and swing basics

Golf Grip for a Powerful Swing
Golf Grip for a Powerful Swing.

Many golf injuries occur due to improper grip and swing mechanics, but a lack of fitness and flexibility also contribute to the most common golf injuries and pain. These injuries typically occur in the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons) and joints of the upper body (back, elbow, wrist and shoulder).

In general, professional golfers have more overuse injuries due to hours of practice while amateurs are more likely to get injured from lack of conditioning, poor swing mechanics and improper club grip.

What Causes Golf Injuries?

  • Overuse
  • Mis-hits or duffs (hitting the ground during the swing)
  • Poor swing mechanics
  • Over-swinging
  • Skipping the Warm-up
  • Twisting the Spine During the Swing
  • Incorrect Golf Club Grip

Prevention of Golf Injuries Depends On:

  • Proper swing mechanics and club grip
  • Proper conditioning
  • Proper equipment

Four Phases of a Golf Swing

  1. Backswing
  2. Downswing
  3. Ball strike
  4. Follow-through

During the typical golf swing, the lumbar spine undergoes a variety of forces including compression and rotation. You can reduce this stress and prevent back injuries by:

  1. Rotating the shoulder and hip about the same amount during the backswing
  2. Keeping the spine vertical (perpendicular to the ground) during the follow-through (and avoiding hyperextension of the spine).

Shoulder injuries in golfers are generally due to repetitive overuse syndromes of the rotator cuff muscles. The muscles of the shoulder joint undergo various forces during the swing.

To reduce shoulder pain and injuries:

  1. Shorten the backswing slightly (end with the club head at a 1 o'clock rather than 3 o'clock).
  2. Strengthen the rotator cuff and scapular muscles (to reduce injury risk).
  3. Strengthen the chest (pectoralis major) and back (latissimus dorsi) muscles (these generate the power in the swing).
  1. Take a lesson with a pro and refine your swing so it is fluid.

You can also help prevent hand, wrist and elbow pain and injuries by:

  1. Selecting larger club grips
  2. Using softer grips
  3. Using a neutral grip
  4. Selecting irons with large heads and "sweet spots" to lessen vibration
  5. Selecting graphite shafts are to lessen vibration
  6. Selecting the correct club length (the end of the club should extend slightly beyond the palm of the leading hand)
  7. strengthening the forearm muscles
  8. Taking a lesson with a pro to select equipment and refine your swing.

Many of the injuries suffered by golfers are a combination of technique, equipment, and physical conditioning. A visit with a qualified golf pro can address all three areas.

Additional Tips for Preventing Golf Injuries

Get Enough Rest
Because many advanced golfers spend hours hitting balls on the practice tee and additional hours on the course, the chance of overuse injuries to the shoulder and elbow are increased.

Listen to Your Body
To avoid overuse injuries, decrease your play time at the first sign of aches and pains.

Practice Visualization
This is a process of creating a mental image or intention, of what you want to happen or to feel.

Do Core Conditioning Exercises
Develop an overall conditioning program that emphasizes core strength in the back, torso and shoulder.

Get a Proper Warm-up
At a minimum, get a 10-minute walk or perform the core strength routine as a warm up.

Sample Golf Stretches:

  • Neck Rolls
    Slowly perform clockwise and counter clockwise neck rolls
  • Shoulder Stretches
    Hold a golf club in front of you with a hand at each end of the club. Raise it over your head and hold. Then hold it the same way behind your back and lift up to stretch the shoulders and hold. Finally, grab each elbow with the opposite hand and pull it across your body to stretch the outside capsule of each shoulder.
  • Standing Forward Bend Stretches Shoulders and Hamstrings
  • Trunk side bends
    With hands resting on your hips, bend side to side and hold.
  • Trunk rotation
    With arms crossed and hands resting on the opposite shoulders, rotate the shoulders and hold in each direction.
  • Swing Practice
    Start swinging the club gently. At the driving range hit shots starting with a pitching wedge, and working up to the driver. If you can't go to a driving range prior to playing, use the same warm up without hitting any balls. Start with a half swing and work up to a full swing after several minutes. Focus on proper mechanics and a slow easy stroke.


Managing Golf Injuries: Technique and Equipment Changes That Aid Treatment, The Physician and Sports Medicine, July 1999.

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