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Doctors Offer Advice for Golfers

Say the word golf and you've got the attention of thousands of golf enthusiasts. But for all who love the sport, billions are spent in golf-related injuries each year. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports the leading injury affects the elbow. Injuries to the spine, knee, hip, and wrist are also common.

In this report the AAOS offers golfers advice on how to avoid golf injuries. First, start a program of muscle exercises. Increasing flexibility and improving durability can help reduce the risk of common injuries.

Second, don't take up golf without some instruction. A beginner (or anyone) who doesn't use proper golf techniques is at increased risk for injury, especially low back injury. Third, plan a five to 10 minute warm up routine. Stretch all areas of the body, including the arms, neck, shoulders, back, and legs. Take some practice swings. Take advantage of the driving range and hit a few golf balls there before teeing off.

The authors offer specific exercises for the elbow and back, the most common problem areas. Proper posture is also reviewed. Golfers are encouraged to keep the pelvis as level as possible during stance and swing. A few golf lessons can help correct any bad habits early on.

Proper body mechanics out on the golf course can also go a long way to protecting from injury. The golfer should bend at the knees, not at the waist when planning the next shot or picking up the ball. Rest breaks or stretch breaks are always a good idea.

When a golfer injures him or herself, see a doctor or physical therapist quickly. If symptoms don't go away after a few days of rest, ice, and support of the body part in question, then get some help. Early intervention is often the key to getting back on the golf course for that next set of holes.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Avoiding the Hazards of Golf Injuries. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. June 2006. Vol. 23(6):376-379.

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