By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) -It seems like every week I get a few folks come in with some very sore body parts, and the one thread is that they are recreational golfers. And after checking them over, there’s little question that hitting the links has been a bogey to their joints — and is to blame for their aches and, sometimes, severe pain.

Research from the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that although pro golfers suffer their fair share of injuries, recreational golfers who hit the course for a little fun (and frustration) have triple the injury rate of men and women in the professional ranks. Triple.

Here’s a scorecard of the most common injuries for the occasional duffer:

– Low back
– Inner elbow
– Outer elbow
– Shoulders
– Knees

What are the reasons for the pain of trying to play through? Experts say it’s pretty much as you might expect: Not enough warm-up; too tight a grip; trying to kill the ball; over-swinging; hitting the ground with a downward swing; and too little day-to-day activities besides hitting the course on an occasional basis.

Sound a little too obvious, or “This isn’t me!”

Well consider this, the average man or woman who shows up at the course spends, on average, SIX minutes warming up. The recommended amount before a round is 30 minutes — especially if you are over the age of 40. Your muscles and joints need that time to loosen up for this very specific set of motions and activities.

How do you spend 30 minutes?

Five minutes of walking.

Ten minutes of stretching.

Ten to 15 minutes on the driving range with a small bucket of balls, beginning with half swings, and easing your way through the bag with short clubs first—working up to your driver. Plus, be sure to hit the practice green, maybe as your starting point.

If you’re walking the course (lucky you, these days), alternate carrying your bag on each shoulder each hole.

Another big key is to make sure that you look at golf as you would any sport: it requires the three components of fitness — aerobic, strength, and flexibility.

That means you need are doing other activities year round … or at least several days of the week when you’re not on the course.

And by all means, if you’re sore or just can’t get those swings to smoothly move through a nice arc, don’t be afraid to get a lesson or two to see if there is something that can be tweaked with your technique.

And last but not least — never play through pain. Give it a rest, and if things don’t clear up, be sure to get checked over.

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida


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