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Injuries and Overuse Syndromes in Golf.

Authors: Georg Gosheger, MD, et al.

References: The American Journal of Sports Medicine. May/June 2003. Vol. 31. No. 3. Pp. 438-443.

Abstract
Golf is becoming more and more popular, but there is limited data about golf injuries. These authors surveyed 703 golfers in Germany about how much they golf and what kind of golf injuries they had over two seasons. The surveys provided some interesting information:

Just over 90 percent of the golfers were recreational golfers, with a wide range of ages. Of these golfers, about 40 percent reported injuries from golf. Injuries among recreational golfers were most likely to be in the elbow, followed by the back and shoulder.

Professional golfers had more trouble: 60 percent of them reported golf injuries. The authors think that this is because these golfers played more often and tended to carry their own bags. Among the professionals, injuries were most likely to be in the back, followed by the wrist and shoulder.

Golfers who played more than four rounds of golf or hit more than 200 balls each week were much more likely to be hurt. In fact, over 90 percent of the golf injuries were caused by overuse. This was especially true of back, shoulder, knee, and elbow problems.

More than half of the injuries caused golfers to stop golfing for less than one month. Still, about one-fourth of the injuries kept golfers off the course for longer than a month. Knee and back problems caused the most long-lasting health problems.

Golfers who warmed up for at least 10 minutes were half as likely to be injured as those who hadn't warmed up for less than 10 minutes.

Golfers who carried their own bags were more likely to have shoulder, lower back, and ankle injuries.

Golfers who already had musculoskeletal problems were more likely to be injured while playing golf. Golfers with preexisting wrist problems were especially likely to see their problems worsen from golf, followed by golfers with preexisting knee pain. However, golfers who already had back pain often reported that their symptoms got better with golf. This was also true for some golfers who already had hip, foot, and ankle problems.

The golfers' playing level, age, gender, weight, and participation in other sports did not seem to affect their injury rates.

The authors collected this data to provide a solid basis for future research on golf injuries. They conclude that golf is a safe sport even for people with musculoskeletal problems--as long as they don't overdo it.

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