Ask a Vail Sports Doc: Get your shoulders ready for tee time to avoid injuries
May 22, 2017
While Arapahoe Basin continues to reap the benefits of persistent snow accumulation for ski and snowboard enthusiasts in Colorado, the Vail Valley is also buzzing with excitement over another one of our favorite pastimes — golf. Will your shoulders be ready for tee time?
The shoulder is the fourth most commonly injured body area in amateur golfers, according to the Orthopedic Journal at Harvard Medical School, as many golfers take the physical aspect of the sport for granted because of the slow pace of the game.
Unnatural, explosive rotational forces to drive the ball off the tee can lead to injury as the result of poor swing mechanics and lack of physical preparation. Women are more prone to upper body musculoskeletal injury while men tend to be more prone to back injury. Many golf related shoulder injuries are preventable with preparation to sustain the repetitive motions of the game.
The most prevalent golf injuries can be subcategorized into overuse and traumatic injury. Overuse injury including rotator cuff inflammation, biceps tendinitis and small rotator cuff tears can be caused by golfing too often or poor mechanics. Osteoarthritis of the glenohumeral, or ball-and-socket joint or smaller acromioclavicular joint can flare up with repetitive play without appropriate recovery time and maintenance care. Traumatic injury can occur suddenly with explosive drives including muscle strains and tendon tears.
Pre-season conditioning programs should focus on flexibility, balance and strength training to avoid injury throughout the season. Strength and endurance training of the upper back, shoulder and arm muscles should focus on specific training of the rotator cuff musculature, an area often prone to injury while golfing.
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Proper strength training can add yards to your drive, lower your score and reduce the incidence of overuse injury. A rounded upper back, typically the result of chest muscles overpowering weak periscapular muscles, can decrease rotational potential and increase the chance of shoulder or arm injury. Building endurance and core strength can help maintain good posture in your golf stance over the course of 18 holes.
If your shoulders aren't prepared for the season, then your golf swing and ultimately your golf game can suffer.
Victoria Stanislawski is a board-certified orthopaedic technologist, licensed surgical assistant and athletic trainer to Dr. Richard Cunningham, M.D. Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. As a graduate assistant, she worked as a certified athletic trainer for the USC cheerleading and equestrian teams. She also served as a physician extender to two of USC Sports Medicine's orthopaedic surgeons. She completed The Steadman Clinic's Athletic Training Fellowship program in 2013.
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