Preventing Golf Injuries and Choosing the Right Equipment

Many of your personal training clients who play golf on a regular basis ideally should be training their muscles properly to swing the club with ease and avoid golf injuries.

Common Golf Injuries

Many of the injuries golfers incur are caused by the repetitive motion of the golf swing. Other contributing factors are poor posture, incorrect body mechanics, muscle imbalance, and inflexibility. These injuries tend to occur more frequently to the upper back and neck, the lower back, the rotator cuff, the elbow (“golfers elbow”) and the wrist.

The rhomboids, trapezius, levator scapulae, and serratus anterior are the key muscles providing for scapular stabilization. When these muscles are weak it may cause fatigue and pain in the upper back and neck. Consequently the action of bringing the club overhead and following through to the finish may hinder optimal performance. For this reason, it is important to address the muscles responsible for scapular stabilization in your clients program. This will help improve their swing and decrease the risk of injury.

Upper Back and Neck

If these muscles are weak and tight, you may experience pain and stiffness, causing a poor swing.

Lower Back

The swing requires a rapid rotation of the trunk-resulting in a power transfer to the arms for a strong finish. In order for the swing to have power and to avoid putting strain on the lower back good trunk rotation must be established and maintained. A balanced conditioning routine for the lower back, abdominals, obliques and legs will help reinforce stabilization of the spine. This will help to decrease the risk of lower back injury and provide power for the swing.

Weak torso muscles may cause lower back injuries and prevent your client from making a complete turn, resulting in a loss of power and a poor finish.

Rotator Cuff

The muscles of the rotator cuff are markedly active during the golf swing. Repetitive use and improper training (imbalance between the external and internal motions) can make the rotators more susceptible to injury. Consequently the underdeveloped external rotators are at risk for injury, overpowered by the stronger internal rotators. A well balanced strength and flexibility program will help ensure that these imbalances do not take place and provide reinforcement and stabilization to the rotator cuff.

Weakness to these muscles may cause pain and shoulder instability, resulting in a poor takeaway through to the finish.

Forearm & Wrist

“Golfers Elbow” is commonly seen due to the excessive repetitive nature of the golf swing. Pain in the hands and wrists are also common due to poorly coordinated grips, gripping too tightly or flipping of the hands. A correct grip in which both hands work together as one unit will promote grip control and help decrease the likelihood of injury. Therefore forearm and wrist exercises should be included to your clients routine.

If these muscles are weak, it could cause your fingers to come off the shaft, flipping of the hands or pain in the wrist or elbow.

In a Nutshell

To be effective design a regime for your client to strengthen the legs, abdominal and lower back muscles for trunk stability and power transfer. Include exercises to reinforce, strengthen and stabilize the upper back, neck and rotator cuff. In addition, provide exercises for the upper and lower arm to strengthen the wrists for club gripping, enabling your client to take the club to the top and follow through to the finish with ease. Choosing The Proper Equipment. When designing a golf specific program make sure to include functional fitness tools. These include:

  • stability balls will promote better balance, improved posture and increased flexibility
  • medicine balls will encourage greater coordination, stamina and strength o resistance cords reinforce the patterns of the golf swing and reinforce the integrity of the rotator cuff
  • balance pads are more unstable then the floor, but offer older individuals or those with minimal balance a more challenged surface to perform practice swings o foam rollers and balance discs will improve balance, especially when performing practice golf swings and exercises o gripping devices, like the EZGRIP™ will promote more comfort, balance, leverage and better strength.

Functional Conditioning Exercises to Help Your Golf Client Prevent Injuries

Stability Balls

-Practice sitting

-Seated Circles/forward and backward

-Curls lying on the floor, with the ball under the legs

More advanced:

-Curls lying on top of the ball

-Pelvic raises lying on top of the ball.


Medicine Balls

-Partner Torso Turns

More advanced:

– Pelvic raises lying on top of the ball, with a medicine ball between knees

-Curls lying on top of the ball

Resistance Cords

-External rotation exercises seated or standing

-Torso Lifts

-Upper Back Pulls

More advanced:

-Curls lying on top of the ball

-External rotation lying on top of the ball

Balance Pads, Foam Rollers & Discs

-Practice standing

-Stand with eyes closed

-Stand on one leg

More advanced:

-Practice golf swings

-Lifting weights

Using resistance cords

Performing medicine ball throws


Around a dumbbell perform:

-Wrist pronation/supination

-Wrist flexion/extension

Around the golf club perform:

-practice swings

By incorporating functional conditioning exercises into your golf regimens, your client will more than likely increase their performance level, but more importantly will reduce their chance of injury.

Learn more in our Functional Training Specialist as a part of our Continuing Education Course Series.
Functional Training Specialist course

Gina Piazza, is the CEO and founder of GMP Fitness. She is the developer of the Golf Conditioning Specialist Professional Training Course, a program that teaches health professionals golf assessment and exercise development. Visit


These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or [email protected] with questions or for more information.
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