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Stretch & Strengthen Before Hitting The Links

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DURHAM — Some people say golf is a brain game. A lot of thought goes into each swing, but the sport is physically demanding, too.

Like any sport, getting and staying in shape makes a big difference.

Dr. Alison Toth of the Duke Sports Medicine Center sees plenty of golf injuries. She says male golfers tend to injure their backs.

"It's pretty easy to hurt yourself playing golf, " she says. "The back injury is the most common thing we hear of."

Female golfers tend to experience more elbow injuries, likely because they are more loosely jointed.

"It tends to be difficult to maintain the proper forearm posture coming through and hitting the ball for those who hyper-extend, and that can cause a lot off stress on the elbow," says Toth.

There are things golfers can do to prevent injuries.

Toth recommends doing curls using small hand weights or a soda can to strengthen the wrists and forearms, and to improve flexibility. She suggests doing the exercise several times a week.

It is also important to stretch before taking that first swing.

Andy Lovas, a local golf pro, begins each session with a warm-up.

"Stretching is very important for two reasons: to enhance your ability to swing a golf club and also to prevent injuries," he says. "Arching your back at the finish, especially if you have back pain, that's not a good idea," says Lovas.

Proper training, warm-up and technique is a lot of work, but the extra effort will pay off.

For pain or soreness in the arms, wrist or back an anti-inflammatory medication and an ice pack can help. If the aches and pains continue after a day of golf, work with a golf pro or consult a doctor to see exactly what is causing the problem.