If you love the game of golf and play regularly, then chances are that you’ve experienced golf shoulder pain at some point. Between the Shoulders, the glenohumeral joint features the largest range of motion out of all the joints in the body. Because of this, it has several supportive structures and tendinous attachments, which significantly increases the chances of injury.
Common Causes of Shoulder Pain in Golfers
When you play golf, the body relies mainly on shoulder, chest, arm, and hip muscles to navigate the ball from the tee to a hole in the distance. If you don’t have a golf rangefinder, then determining the distance to the next hole can be difficult. Overestimating the distance is one of the main reasons golfers tend to overdo it when they take a swing.
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When you take a swing, the shoulders tend to do most of the work, which is why they’re so prone to injury.
Pain in the shoulder can occur for many reasons, ranging from overuse to arthritis. In the shoulders, arthritis can develop over time with wear and tear and can result in intense inflammation that can negatively affect your swing and overall performance.
Muscle injuries can be caused by swinging too far and too hard past your range of motion. Spending too much time at the driving range is another common cause of shoulder pain.
Muscles and Joints
Shoulder pain usually originates around the AC joint, which is located at the top of the shoulder. It can also affect the glenohumeral joint found between the shoulder blades. A back swing will affect the AC joint cartilage, and can cause it to deteriorate with overuse, over a period of months or years. This can result in severe anterior shoulder pain. Issues with muscle weakness can also lead to shoulder pain and increased weakness, due to an injured subscapularis muscle, which is used throughout the duration of a golf swing.
There are some simple methods you can try that can help heal your shoulder and allow you to use it and move it normally, within just a few days. The RICE method is one of the top choices most physicians recommend. With this method you must rest your shoulder and ice it regularly, in addition to constant compression in order to reduce inflammation. Keeping the shoulder elevated and resting above heart level when you’re sitting can also help to reduce inflammation. Over the counter anti-inflammatories can be used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Preventing Shoulder Injuries in the Future
Shoulder pain can easily be prevented by doing some light stretching before a round of golf and with strength training workouts a couple of times a week. Additionally, if you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis it’s more important to regularly work out in order to prevent your joints from stiffening up and to promote improved blood circulation. Depending on the severity of your arthritis your doctor may recommend certain types of exercises and changes in lifestyle that will promote improved joint health.
Obviously, you’ll also want to take it easy for a while if you’ve just recovered from a shoulder injury. This means cutting back on the amount of time you spend on the green and at the range. While staying away from the course may be difficult to do, it’s essential in order to avoid a serious injury.
Severe Golf Related Injuries
One of the most common causes of shoulder pain in golfers is caused by a basic rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff features a number of tendinous attachments which makes it more vulnerable to injury. This type of injury can occur when the muscles or tendons tear, resulting in severe pain. With a powerful golf swing, or in the event of a fall in which a person uses their hand to brace themselves, these movements can easily result in a rotator cuff injury.
If you’re suffering from shoulder pain and feel that it may be a rotator cuff injury, make sure you apply ice for twenty minutes every two to three hours for a period of three to four days. During this time, avoid stretching and moving your shoulder and take over the counter medications designed to reduce inflammation.
If the following symptoms occur, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible:
- Severe pain that lasts longer than two days
- You’re unable to reach to the side or up with the injured shoulder after three days
- You’re unable to move your arm at all
- You’re not able to go to work due to severe pain
As the pain decreases, strengthening exercises and massage can be done in order to improve mobility and reduce stiffness.
Lightening the Load
Are you one of those golfers that tends to go overboard when it comes to gear? How many golf clubs in a golf bag are you lugging around? If you notoriously haul around several extra putters and other types of clubs, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury, especially if you’ve had a shoulder injury in the past. If you love playing golf and can’t imagine spending time away from the course, then you need to play it smart. Rent a golf cart, have someone caddy for you, or buy a golf pushcart. The point here is to stay healthy and strong. Limit the amount of time you spend at the range, especially if you’re not doing any other types of exercise to strengthen your shoulders.
If you feel tenderness or pain in your shoulder after a round of golf, ice it immediately. If you notice a significant change in your range of motion, then make an appointment with your doctor. Avoid playing until after your appointment in order to avoid worsening the condition.