Was Tiger Woods’ worst-ever performance in the Masters tournament this month due to his Achilles tendon injury?
Last Spring, golf was Tiger-less. Tiger Woods, having injured his Achilles tendon and suffering knee problems, took his clubs and went home, sitting out the Masters tournament for the first time in his career. This March his Achilles tendon injury flared up again, causing him to withdraw after 11 holes in the Cadillac Championship. He has decided not to play again until the Wells Fargo Championship May 3-6.
For most of us, our golf games don’t have as much riding on them as Tiger Woods’ games do – there’s no million dollar purse for us. But the possibility of injuring ourselves is even greater than it is for Tiger. Championship golfers spend their days off working out in the gym, strengthening leg and ankle muscles, balancing all the muscles in their entire body, and working on their swing. Most of us weekend golfers just roll out of bed, meet our friends at the clubhouse and off we go. That leaves us very vulnerable to injuries from our game.
Your golf swing is a very complex and explosive movement which puts significant stress and torque on your body from the neck to the heel. Golfers are at a high risk for developing overuse injuries to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint structures.
Most golf injuries are the result of the repetitive nature of practice swings, combined with a poor warm-up. Adding to the problem is weak trunk, shoulder and wrist muscles, especially as we age. A well-conditioned golfer will be less susceptible to injury and will recover more quickly after an injury. A smart golf conditioning program will incorporate balance exercises, full body rotational movements and a stretching program that increases your ability to rotate at the spine.
Golf Warmup Exercises
Golfing involves (or at least should involve) a lot of walking, so the first thing you should do before starting each season is to walk 3-4 miles several times per week, and maintain that walking routine during the season. This will keep your cardiovascular system in top shape for your game, which will reduce how winded you get walking between holes (I realize that most of you take the cart-but that doesn’t give you the healthy workout that walking the course does).
The second part of your golf warmup is stretching exercises. Swinging a club requires significant flexibility in the shoulders, spine, hips, and legs, and tightness in any of these muscles may not only affect your game but also increase the chances of injury.
Before your game, do dynamic stretches which prep your body for your swing. Holding your golf club in front of you horizontally, rotate your body side to side and front to back, similar to the motion of your golf swing. Longer, static stretches should be done immediately after your game to loosen tendons and muscles in your legs that may have become tight from playing. These types of stretches may be done while lying on your back, paying attention to stretch everything from the waist to the toes.
If you experience pain and soreness after a game, you should be examined immediately by a physician. If your pain is in the heel or ankle area, make an appointment with East Penn Foot And Ankle for a complete diagnosis.
Don’t ignore ankle or foot pain, believing it will heal before your next game. Ignoring a minor injury today might mean that you’ll be out for the season after your next game.