Bracing for Golf

A golfer’s passion for the sport can sometimes result in injury. The desire to consistently make the weekly tee time can force golfers to use braces and protective equipment — allowing the golfer to play at all costs. However, consistent use may mask injuries or conditions that need treatment or rehabilitation.

Brett Fischer, P.T., A.T.C., of Fischer Sports Physical Therapy and Conditioning in Tempe, Ariz., and a former physical therapist for the Senior and PGA Tours, says he uses a variety of protective equipment with professional and amateur golfers. His treatment ranges from short-term use of elbow braces to using lower back and ankle supports to rehabilitate the problem.

Protective Devices You Can’t Do Without
Interestingly, Fischer’s favorite protective devices for golf are proper footwear and adequate sunscreen and lip balm. Proper footwear and orthotics, if necessary, will prevent foot problems that can cause knee pain, and hip and back problems. Proper sunscreen and lip balm may be the most important protective equipment a golfer can carry.

It is important to remember that protective equipment is not a substitute for proper flexibility and conditioning, or proper rehabilitation after injury has occurred. Warming up can help prevent injuries and allow enjoyment of golf at every level.

Forearm or Tennis Elbow Brace
One of the most common supportive braces used in golf is the forearm or tennis elbow brace or band. Commonly, the lead arm will develop pain on the outside of the elbow, which mimics the injury sustained from a poor tennis swing. The inside portion of the following elbow tends to be another area of soreness or pain, but this is much less common.

Back Support Braces and Wrist Support Bands
Back support braces and wrist support bands are also commonly used on the course or practice range. Most back or wrist pain results from overuse, but it can also occur from a mishap — for example, when a golfer takes too large of a divot or catches a rock or other impediment at the time of ball contact. Bracing allows play during rehabilitation.

Self-Bracing

Many golfers purchase and use a brace on their own and seek medical advice only after the brace fails to resolve their problem. Most sporting goods stores and medical supply outlets carry commonly used braces.

While bracing an injury may allow the golfer to continue to play or practice despite being in pain, it can also prolong or mask a serious problem. Seek medical and golf-professional advice as soon as possible when confronted with an injury. Rehabilitative exercises, properly fitted foot orthotics, and proper swing dynamics can decrease recovery time and allow the golfer to return to golf safely.