Were you one of the two million Americans who watched the U.S. Open last month? Golf is a popular sport and there are plenty of great courses in our area.

Recently, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), headquartered in Rosemont, IL, offered advice on preventing golf-related injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that each year, over 100,000 people are treated in emergency departments and doctors’ offices for golf-related injuries.

The AAOS says that most golf injuries are due to overuse from repeating the same motion. Leading the list of injuries is golfer’s elbow, technically known as medial epicondylitis, an inflammation of the tendons that attach your forearm muscles to the inside of the bone at your elbow. Also common are lower back injuries caused by poor swing techniques.

Says AAOS spokesperson Gabriel Elias Soto, MD, “During a game of golf, significant stress is placed on the same muscles, tendons and joints as a result of the repetitive swinging motion used throughout the sport.” Dr. Soto, who is an orthopedic surgeon, says, “Golfers can perform simple exercises to help build up forearm muscles, strengthen lower back muscles, and prevent injuries.”

The AAOS suggests these exercises to help strengthen arm and back muscles. You can do them year-round to keep in shape for hitting the course.

Forearm muscles:

Squeeze a tennis ball. Squeezing an old tennis ball for five minutes at a time is a simple, effective exercise that will strengthen your forearm muscles.

Wrist curls. Start with your forearm laying on a flat surface, palm up. Use a lightweight dumbbell (a half- pound to one pound weight to start and increase weight as you improve). Lower the weight to the end of your fingers, and then curl it back into your palm, followed by curling up your wrist to lift the weight an inch or two higher. Perform 10 repetitions with one arm, and then repeat with the other arm.

Reverse wrist curls. Use a lightweight dumbbell. Place your hands in front of you, palm side down. Using your wrist, lift the weight up and down. Hold the arm that you are exercising above your elbow with your other hand in order to limit the motion to your forearm. Perform 10 repetitions with one arm, and then repeat with the other arm.

Lower back: Specific exercises and illustrations are available in the AAOS low back pain exercise guide.

Wall squats. Stand with exercise ball between your low back and wall. Slowly bend knees 45 to 90 degrees. Hold five seconds. Straighten knees. Repeat the process raising both arms over head.

Lying on a ball. Lie on your stomach over exercise ball. Slowly raise alternate arms over head. Slowly raise alternate legs two to four inches from floor. Combine one and two, alternating opposite arms and legs. Bend one knee. Slowly lift this leg up, alternating right and left legs.

Yoga and pilates. These exercise programs focus on trunk and abdomen strength, as well as flexibility.

Remember to stretch your back, shoulders and legs prior to a round of golf.

Source: The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, adapted by IlluminAge. For more information on golf injuries and prevention tips, visit OrthoInfo.org.

This article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

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