The three most common injuries caused by playing golf and how to prevent them

November 16, 2018
Tim Clark golf injuries

Injuries are unfortunately a natural part of the game of golf. Some are more preventable than others. So, we decided to look into what are golf’s most common injuries, how they are suffered, caused, and how to prevent them from occurring.

For this, we consulted with performance coach and fitness trainer Ben Shear who has worked closely with and advised PGA Tour professionals, amateurs, and collegiate golfers. Shear also hosts a show called “Golfer’s Edge” on SiriusXM PGA Tour radio and has a partnership with ThermaCare.

Lower back, wrist, and neck injuries are the most common ones suffered by golfers, according to Shear.

Without further adieu, here’s a full breakdown of the three most common injuries in golf.

Tiger Woods back
Tiger Woods has suffered from chronic lower back injuries over the last several years.
Getty Images

1. Lower back injuries

Lower back injuries are the most common among golfers, according to Shear. Tiger Woods is the most well-known golfer to suffer from chronic back injuries — the 14-time major champion has undergone four back surgeries over the course of his career. Needless to say, it forced Tiger off the golf course for most of the last several years. Shear advises golfers to make sure that their rotation isn’t too strenuous on the lower back when swinging. As Shakira would likely agree with, the hips need to stay mobile through your swing. Golfers need to keep the back steady because it’s not meant to move when swinging, Shear said. So, more consistent hip movement on your swing should lead to less movement in your back and, thus, less risk of an injury.

michelle wie
Michelle Wie has previously suffered from wrist injuries and is currently recovering from a hand injury.
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2. Wrist injuries

Wrist injuries are another one commonly suffered by golfers, Shear said. One famous golfer who has suffered from wrist injuries during their career is Michelle Wie. The 29-year-old Wie, who is currently recovering from a hand injury, previously suffered from and played through wrist injuries earlier in her career. Shear says that wrist injuries are most commonly caused by golf clubs coming into contact with the ground during the swing. Shear encourages golfers to not hit too many balls off of golf mats because the force from the mat will reverberate up through the club and to the wrist. Instead, he recommends that golfers stick to hitting golf balls off of natural grass because the grass gives more when the club strikes a ball and comes in contact with the grass. Just some basic physics.

Jason Dufner
Jason Dufner suffered from a neck injury back in 2014.

3. Neck injuries

Neck injuries, like back injuries, are also common among golfers and caused primarily by poor movement on a swing. Jason Dufner has suffered from neck injuries throughout his pro career, as he struggled with constant neck pain in 2014. Golfers need to have good mobility in the neck, according to Shear. Being too stiff and not moving your neck at all is an injury waiting to happen. But the mobility must be proportionate to the rest of the body’s motion in a swing. Too much or not enough movement in the neck can lead to injury; it has to be consistent with the rest of your swing motion. Good swing mechanics prevent neck injuries, Shear said.