Getting a tee time for golf and hitting at the driving range is one of the hottest tickets in town, especially with the ability to social distance easily. With the increase in playing time, there is also an increased risk of injury. Injuries from golf are caused by many factors, including poor technique, poor movement patterns and poor fitting equipment. These factors are difficult to change, take time, and become expensive when paying for new equipment. But there are some factors that are easier to change than others.
1. Stop mindlessly bashing balls at the driving range.
As tee times are harder to come by, more people are hitting at the driving range instead. Often, people will hammer through a bucket of 100 balls in 15 minutes when going to the driving range! This will do more harm than good. I often see people on the driving range miss-hitting a ball and then hit another ball straight after, hoping that was just a one-off mistake. This mindless hitting will ingrain the poor sequencing, swing plane and extension you used on the previous miss hit ball. Instead, step back and refocus. Set your target again to hit the next shot pure. This result will allow you to get some rest after putting in the maximum effort swing.
2. Fatigue is real in golf.
Although golf is not known as a fatiguing or gruelling sport, swinging 100 times at a high intensity in a short time is. This kind of practice can lead to fatigue, exposing yourself to injury. It is both fatiguing on your energy systems and your nervous system. This results in the nervous system firing rapid signals to every part of your body, telling it to sync up all the moving parts. Instead, break up your practice by stepping back after shots, concentrating on your target every time and doing a pre-shot routine like you would on a course. Be sure to mix in some shorter shots with your wedges and pretend to play a par four after bombing a drive down the middle.
3. Understand and respect the surface you’re hitting off of.
When you are hitting off the natural ground, you usually take a divot (not too deep, I hope). The force you put into the ground with your club is dispersed through the ground. When you’re hitting off of a mat, you’re unable to distribute the forces as it has no give. That force is sent back up the club and up into your hands and arms. This repetitive force throughout your body will have damaging effects and cause you to experience fatigue faster, leading to an increased risk of injury. When it comes to hitting the grass, as the seasons change, we can expect more moisture to accumulate, which leads to thicker and wet grass; this is especially true in the rough. We need to understand that if and when we hit out of the rough, the thick wet grass will grab the club, resulting in a turn in our hands. This will add torsional forces, increasing our risk of injury, particularly in our wrists; instead of trying to swing as hard as you can out of the rough, club up and turn at 80% to decrease the amount of force going through the club. Or, if it’s thick, take your medicine, and dare I say it, layup.
4. Doing a short warm-up decreases risk of injury.
I know now, especially with the protocols in place at golf courses, you don’t have time or space to warm up extensively to get ready for your round. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a warmup at all. Even a 5-minute warm-up, working on specific areas will help reduce the risk of injury and make swinging a lot easier. Getting a physical assessment and understanding your weaknesses and strengths will allow you to target specific areas with more restrictions and need more warming up than other areas.
Try these simple and easy tips to reduce your risk of injury so you can continue to play while the sun is still shining. If you are suffering from an injury, book a session to get assessed and get back out there on the course and play pain-free. Also, talk to your local golf pro to fix some of your swing faults that may exacerbate your risk of injury.