It's March, the time of year when just like spring bulbs golfers emerge from their winter shelters with fantasies of a blooming game.
It also means an increase in golf-related injuries, namely in the low back, wrist, elbow and shoulder.
But many injuries can be prevented with proper stretching.
While nongolfers may think the sport is just a walk in the park, golf is physically taxing on the body. The average male golfer swings a club between 80 and 90 mph; female golfers swing 60 to 70 mph. At that speed and done repeatedly for several hours it's important to be able to rotate your body sufficiently. If not, an injury is inevitable.
Injury prone • If your shoulders are tight when you swing a club, there will be more rotation in the spine. That often causes an injury in the body's weakest link the low back. Tight upper backs can lead to pain in the shoulder joint. If you hook your shot a lot, this could be your problem. And if the hips are restricted, then the shoulders and the wrists have to do more work, leading to overuse injuries and more bad swings.
While it's best to have your posture assessed by a qualified professional, here are two quick ways to determine if you are tight in certain areas of the body. (Visit my Facebook page where I'll demonstrate these tests.)
Thoracic extension test • Stand against a wall with your heels about a foot from the wall and with knees slightly bent. Your buttocks, back and head should be flat against the wall. You should be able to raise your arms over your head without your back, pelvis or head coming off the wall. If you can't do this, you need to improve mobility in your chest/upper back area. If you don't, you could end up with a shoulder injury, in addition to a poor back swing or follow-through.
Low back test • Bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair. With arms out and palms up, you should be able to twist until your feet touch the floor on one side without the opposite shoulder raising off the ground. If you can't do this, the shoulder often compensates or you might end up with pain in the tendons in the elbow region.
If you fail either of these tests, start stretching or you're likely to be in the doctor's office instead of on the course.
Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. E-mail her at Lwodraska@sltrib.com or follow her on facebook.com/lyatribune or Twitter @LyaWodraska.