Medically Reviewed By | Johannah Gregg, DNP FNP-C
At some point, as much as 20 percent of golfers will experience wrist pain. It can affect anyone, from new golfers to seasoned veterans.
Golf wrist pain can quickly take the joy out of your favorite hobby. Fortunately, if you are mindful of the risks, you can take the right steps to prevent them.
What Causes Golf Wrist Pain?
Although there is a large number of reasons that you may experience golf wrist pain, there are a few that make for the most common culprits. However, with an understanding of the potential causes of your pain, you can find the right pathway to recovery.
The following are the most common causes of wrist pain for golfers.
Tendinitis is one of the most common reasons for golf wrist pain. The condition is tendon inflammation caused by the tendon's and surrounding muscles' overuse.
It can affect any of your tendons, but in golfers, tendinitis is most likely to affect the wrists because of the repeated motion. Tendinitis is common in older golfers but can happen to anyone who golfs extensively.
Golfer’s wrist is a common form of tendinitis that affects many golfers. This condition is distinguishable from other forms of tendinitis as it specifically affects the extensor carpi ulnaris tendon, connecting the forearm to the bone on the outer part of the wrist. It often results from improper swing technique or repeated trauma to the tendon.
Wrist pain is common in golfers who struggle with arthritis. There are multiple forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, where your joints wear down over time, and rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system attacks the tissue surrounding the joints.
Both conditions cause tenderness and swelling of the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.
Arthritis can affect anyone in older age, but the condition is easily aggravated by a golf swing and repeated strain on the joints. In golfers, the swing commonly affects the wrists and hands.
You do not have to be held back by arthritis, but if you are golfing with the condition, you should take a few extra precautions and ensure you warm up properly.
3. Sprains or Fractures
If your wrist pain is not caused by the joint or tendons, then it is possible you have sprained or torn a ligament or maybe even broken a bone. Although these injuries are less common than the above, they pose a potential risk.
In golfers, the most likely fracture is of the hamate bone, which makes up the palm of your hand situated away from the thumb. Pain can shoot from your palm to the wrist and forearm area.
The triangular fibrocartilage complex is a set of ligaments most at risk of injury for golfers. These ligaments connect the radius and ulna bones around the wrist and can be injured by overswinging the club. A tear or sprain in these ligaments can affect the pinky side of your hand and as far up as the elbow.
How Can I Prevent Golf Wrist Pain?
Wrist pain does not have to be an inevitable part of being a golfer. If you take the proper precautions, you can avoid pain and keep your game going strong.
By following a few tips, you can prevent yourself from developing wrist pain and save yourself from missing time on the course.
As with any physical activity, it is important to warm up before you hit the golf course. Prepare yourself for a round of golf by doing some stretches, range-of-motion exercises, and a few practice swings at half-effort.
Family Nurse Practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice Johannah Gregg also notes the importance of ensuring you’re using proper fitting equipment.
Taking a few light swings will help you warm up your muscles and joints while also helping you practice your technique before putting full exertion into your swing.
Use Proper Mechanics
Poor swing technique is one of the quickest ways to develop or aggravate an injury, especially in the wrist. Power in the swing comes from the forearms and momentum from following a proper swing path, but many people, especially beginners, try to flick the wrists to gain force in their swing.
Flicking the wrist or having too much motion in the wrist can put too much stress on the joint, leading to an injury. It is important to catch and break those habits early. When possible, talk to a coach or expert to get feedback on your swing and make any adjustments if necessary.
Wear Golf Gloves
A poor grip on your golf club can be a gateway to potential wrist problems. Golf gloves can help give you a better grip and keep you from squeezing your hands tightly on the club. Too tight of a grip will stress the wrist and cause your wrists to snap as you swing.
Using gloves for a better grip will also give you more control over the club. Holding your club too loosely will cause the club to swing extensively and can put added strain on the wrist. In addition to wearing gloves, you should change the grips on your gloves after about 40 rounds to maintain a good grip and avoid injury.
Don’t Overdo It
Another key aspect of being an athlete in any sport is that you should avoid overexerting yourself. Make sure that you scale up your activity. If you are taking on more holes than usual and haven’t worked up to it, you are setting yourself up for potential injury.
Most importantly, always stop activity at the first sign of pain or discomfort. Pain is a sign of potential injury, but if you stop immediately, you can avoid injury and prevent yourself from making anything worse. Getting those last few shots in is not worth having to avoid the golf course for weeks recovering from an injury.
Prepare Yourself Against Golf Wrist Pain
Wrist pain is a common part of golfing and can develop for various reasons. However, Dr. Gregg notes that if you take the proper precautions, such as using appropriate fitting equipment that will support proper range of motion with you wrist, strengthing core muscle groups, and working on your technique, you may be able to avoid pain altogether.
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