25 August 2016
Is Your Wrist Suffering from Overuse?
Golfers are all familiar with injuries and conditions of the upper limbs, ranging from Golfer’s Elbow to swollen wrists.
According to research the wrist is one of the most common sites of injury in golfers. The wrist accounts for 13-20% of all injuries in amateurs and 20-27% of all injuries in professionals in golf injury epidemiology studies.
The wrist is the anchor point between the club and the body during the golf swing movement. This means the wrist is conducting a large range of motion. Wrist injuries commonly occur at the impact point of the golf swing and are the result of the sudden change in load applied to the club, resulting in a disruption in the tissue of the hands and wrists.
Injury may either be acute, where enough force is produced to cause excessive soft tissue elongation in a single swing, or by way of repetitive micro-trauma if repeated many times in a short timeframe. The injury from repetitive wrist movements, also known as overuse injuries, can happen during practice or from alteration to the swing that results in stress to unaccustomed area. The most common symptoms are discomfort, pain, or swelling.
Overuse injuries are often overlooked by the golfer and dismissed as the “usual soreness” because of the gradual onset of the symptoms. For that reason, overuse injuries sometimes go untreated and then result in further injury to the golfer. Any pain and swelling, however mild, needs to be treated properly and an appointment with a doctor may be needed, especially if the symptoms continue for more than a week. The best first steps are to:
- Rest the area affected by minimizing movements.
- Ice for 20 minutes four to six times a day. Use a thin wet towel for protection to avoid direct contact with ice.
- Compress by wrapping an elastic bandage lightly around the joint. Specialized braces can also be helpful.
- Elevate the area above heart level if possible.
These steps will help reduce the swelling and inflammation from the injury. Continue RICE for 24 to 48 hours or until you can see a doctor. Further management by your doctor, including physical therapy is helpful to restore normal function.
To help prevent future golf-related wrist injuries, the following steps are recommended:
- Warm up. Before you practice your swing or play a round of golf, take at least 10 minutes for a brisk walk or a jog. This will help increase heart rate and blood flow. Also, stretch your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine and pelvis properly. Start with some easy practice swings before you begin, gradually increasing your range of motion.
- Start low, go slow. Starting your practice with hours of swinging and multiple rounds of golf in a short time might sound logical to you. But this behavior will not help your game, especially if you’re just starting up again after a break from golf. If your body is not conditioned and not ready for the strain, repetitively practicing your swing may do more harm than good. Start with a low-level of activity and slowly increase over time.
- Improve your technique. Work on improving your swing and pay attention to proper posture. Taking lessons occasionally will help you get a measure of your form. What you learn about your golf swing may help you improve your score while avoiding injuries.
- Train outside of golf. Improving your overall fitness level by strengthening your muscles, increasing your flexibility, and building up your endurance, can help your performance and make you less prone to injuries.
- Invest in quality equipment. Clubs that can reduce the vibration of impact can help prevent injuries. Even something as simple as using fatter grips to keep you from squeezing the club too tightly may be useful to reduce your risk.
Dr. Sophia Hage SpKO