Side Pain While Playing Golf

Today I received an interesting question about a mysterious pain while playing golf. I needed to think about this one and I decided to copy it and post it here in case a reader is having a similar pain. Since the message was posted on a public forum I’m not breaking privacy, but of course the person’s name isn’t posted.

Here’s the message:

When I take a full golf swing I feel pain in my right side upper rib area on the follow through portion of the swing. The pain can be so bad that it takes my breath away, although disappearing in 2-3 seconds. I do not have pain otherwise;only on the follow through swing when golfing. I go to the gym on a regular basis and nothing else mimics this pain or affects this area. I have stopped golfing for approximately 4 years now, but each spring when I go to the driving range after a couple of sessions the pain is back. This is most annoying as I am in otherwise perfect health with no pain at all and I am really missing my golf! What exercises can I do to strengthen this area so that the pain does not reoccur. What type of injury is this?

My response:

When a person feels pain, the first thing to do is look at what muscle inserts into the area where the pain is felt. The next thing is that the problem is usually caused by a muscle that should be stretching but because of spasms it can’t so it is pulling on the bone at the insertion point. From the description you are mentioning I would say that you have a spasm in your right latissimus dorsi (lats) muscle.

Since the only time you feel the pain is on the follow through, I believe that its your lats because the lats insert into your upper arm and when you are following through your arm is coming across your body, forcing the muscle fibers to stretch. When you have a spasm in the muscles, the fibers won’t stretch. A strain is placed on the muscle and in the case of the lats, they will pull on your arm and side.

You can easily treat this muscle using a ball, or by gripping it with your opposite hand. It will help you easily move your arm and shoulder and play golf without pain.

Have a great day,
Julie

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2 COMMENTS
Troy Matheny

Troy Matheny

I have a similar pain and definitely seems lat related. The golf swing seems to be catalyst as I can do most things without pain, however if I turn or move a specific way I get the abrupt stop you in your tracks pain outside of golf. I have had a lat issue for two years I believe but was manageable and this year I actually felt the injury occur at the range (I swing to hard for 50 year old) and have only been swinging once a week in league and pain comes back as soon as I take a full swing. I was guessing that I may have ripped something in the lat area and not sure if I am done playing for a while or need to go to a specialist. Golf is one of my main passions and would like to get going this year but can’t practice or play much without risk of pain long after play. The end of last year I was a 4 hcp and need to know how to treat this injury or go to doctor.

Julie Donnelly

Julie Donnelly

Hi Troy. I don’t understand why this response isn’t showing up here. This is the third time I’m writing it, I’m going to post it here (again) but I’m also going to email you directly this time. I’m a muscular therapist, definitely not a computer person, so while I can help with aches and pains, computer issues are over my head!

As you are aware, you have a repetitive strain injury, but I don’t think it’s only to your lats. I suspect that you’re also going to find spasms in each of the muscles that have an impact on your shoulder blade and rib cage. I believe you should also be treating your infraspinatus, serratus anterior, teres minor, and teres major. You can read more about these muscles by clicking here and then clicking on the muscle name. The serratus anterior isn’t on this page, but when you are treating the others you’ll also be treating the serratus anterior. While they are technically shoulder muscles, they will refer pain to the area you are describing, and they are all strained by swinging hard repeatedly, so it’s good to treat them in any case.

Do you already have either The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER or Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living?” You’ll find the treatment for the infraspinatus in both of these books, and to treat the other muscles you just need to go a bit forward from your shoulder blade, so you are treating the muscles of your armpit.

I also suggest you get some arnica gel at a good health food store. Arnica is a homeopathic remedy this is fantastic for bruised muscles, pain, and swelling. If you put it onto your opposite fingers, then reach under your arm on the side that hurts so you can reach all the way back to your shoulder blade, then begin to kneed the muscle with your fingers. You can’t overdo using arnica, and when you’re self-treating the muscles, if you find a painful point, that’s a spasm that needs to be treated. The books will show you how to treat the spasms, and then no matter where you find a painful trigger point, they are all treated exactly the same way.

Wishing you well,
Julie

Gabriel

Gabriel

What do you mean by treating the muscle using a ball? Like massage it?

Julie Donnelly

Julie Donnelly

Hi Gabriel,

First, I apologize for the delay. I am still challenged by the computer so my webmaster just pointed out that I had messages that needed to be answered.

Yes, massage the muscle with a ball. I prefer the Perfect Ball that is on my website because it is solid in the center and soft on the outside. You can also use a new tennis ball (it’s hollow so it’s not quite as effective), but don’t use any hard ball as you can bruise your bones.

The self-treatments are shown in either of my books, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living or The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!

Wishing you well,
Julie

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