A golf swing requires action from muscles, tendons and joints throughout your body, some of which are put under more stress than others. But while Tiger Woods’ recent problems with his feet have been well-publicised, they aren’t the only vulnerable area that golfers of all abilities have to watch out for.
Professionals and amateurs alike often suffer from wrist injuries when playing golf. There are many different types of injury that occur, and while it might not be possible to avoid them completely, there are plenty of steps you can take to minimise the risk of pain, discomfort and disruption to your playing schedule.
In this blog, we’ll look at the causes, symptoms, treatment and mitigation of the key types of golf wrist injury.
What causes wrist injuries in golf?
To put it in the simplest terms: you really can have too much of a good thing. Many wrist injuries in golf are caused by playing too much and taking too many swings, whether out on the course or on the driving range. Repeated stress on muscles and tendons as you swing the clubs can cause wrists to become painful and inflamed.
The risk of these injuries is heightened considerably if your swing technique isn’t right. It’s very easy to twist your wrist more than is necessary, especially if you grip the club particularly tightly. This can lead to even more painful wrists, and can lead to injuries occurring much more easily than if your swing is good.
Common golf wrist injury types
There are many different ways to injure a wrist when you’re playing golf, but these three in particular are the most common:
This is where the tendons that connect the wrist to the hand become inflamed, mainly through too many motions, or through doing the same motion repeatedly. This can become very painful, and trying to ‘play through the pain’ and finish a round can often make the issue considerably worse.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
This occurs due to compression of the median nerve that runs through the wrist. As it develops, it can cause both the wrist and the hand to become numb, and it isn’t uncommon to experience a tingling sensation as a result. It can also cause the hand and wrist to feel weak, which will naturally affect your swing substantially.
Sprains, tears and fractures
A bad grip or a sudden impact can easily cause a sprain or a fracture in certain situations, which can be extremely painful, at least in the short term. If you think you’ve sprained a wrist or fractured it, you should stop playing immediately and seek medical attention (even if you’re on the 18th!).
Treating a golf wrist injury
As with any type of injury, it’s always best to get the opinion of a medical professional, rather than trying to treat it yourself or researching your options online. A doctor will be able to give you a proper diagnosis of what’s wrong and tell you how best to recover. The most likely course of action will be to keep the wrist on ice and to leave your clubs in the cupboard for a while, but it’s always worth getting an injury checked out in case therapy or other action is required.
One way to deal with a wrist injury and minimise the amount of golf you have to miss is to wear a wrist brace or cast. These items help hold the wrist in place, so that the repetitive motions that cause injuries can be minimised. It’s worth mentioning that some casts make it difficult to grip the club properly, which can compromise your game, so it’s worth exploring a specialist golf wrist support that strikes the balance between comfort and a smooth swing.
If playing in competitive golf events, you should check in advance to see if braces and casts are allowed as many organisations ban them, but they’re fine for recreational play.
Tips for preventing wrist injuries in golf
There are plenty of things you can do to lower the risk of suffering a golf wrist injury. For starters, you should try to get into the habit of exercising your wrists before the start of a round, with simple wrist curls, extensions and rotations that can loosen muscles and stimulate blood flow. These only take a few minutes and don’t require you to carry any specialist exercise equipment in your bag.
The other main option is to take another look at your swing and action. A tight grip on the club or an extended wrist as you swing will considerably heighten your injury risk, and so you should take some time to evaluate your technique and iron out any issues. You may even want to consider booking some lessons with an expert who can take an objective view of your swing and make some recommendations on where to improve.
For more information on avoiding golfing injuries more generally, have a look at our guide on Top Tips to avoid Golf Injuries.
Get golf insurance with SportsCover Direct
Even if you take good care of yourself and take all necessary precautions, wrist injuries can still happen to you while you’re playing golf. And if that means you can’t work for a period of time, or are otherwise incapacitated, you might be left substantially out of pocket.
SportsCover Direct’s comprehensive golf insurance policies cover you against any financial loss. This applies whether you’ve hurt yourself out on the course, injured someone else, or if your clubs have been lost, damaged or stolen. We can also cover you for any travel disruption on your golf trips, and even pay for the round of drinks at the bar if you hit a hole-in-one.
Our cover is available at competitive rates and through flexible payment plans. Find out everything you need to know about our Golf Insurance policy.