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Rib Injury and Golf

author image Peter Mitchell
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.
Rib Injury and Golf
Erratic or forceful swings can damage your ribs. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images

Bruising around the ribs makes it hard to keep your golf swing smooth. Crack a rib and you can wave goodbye to the course until the bone heals. Playing golf with a fractured rib is not only painful, it's potentially dangerous. A bone shard puncturing or ripping your lung lining can cause life-threatening complications. Resting a mild rib fracture or bruise for a few weeks can help you get back on the course --- but you should consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment advice.


Each individual rib is relatively fragile. However, cartilage in your breastbone and between your ribs makes your ribcage flexible. This allows it to absorb shock and shift position as your body moves. Rib injuries range from impact bruising to stress fractures. If you accidentally hit yourself with a club on the follow-through, for example, you might bruise a rib. This usually heals in a few days. A stress fracture happens when you put too much force on your ribs.

Golfing and Ribs

Rib injuries sometimes happen because of repetitive and strenuous upper-body movements, according to NYU Langone Medical Center. That includes the regular swinging and forceful movement required to play golf. In particular, driving from the tee on a full-sized course puts a lot of pressure on the ribs. Nonetheless, rib injuries are a relatively uncommon problem in golf. If you do damage your ribs playing golf, you'll feel pain when swinging and in some cases see bruising around the affected rib.


In a study published in the "Chinese Medical Journal" in 1994, researchers concluded that amateur golfers are likely to suffer from a rib stress fracture through inadequate stretching, poor technique and overuse. Similarly, using the wrong equipment increases your chances of injuring a rib. An over-long club means that you're more likely to hit the ground instead of the ball when swinging. The shock can transfer to the bones and body, harming the ribs in severe cases.


A severely bruised rib may only require a weak or two of rest before healing. A very light fracture sometimes heals in three weeks if you avoid lifting heavy things or playing golf. A serious fracture can involve wearing a rib protector cage for as long as two months. Your doctor can recommend simple rehabilitation exercises. She will also recommended taking deep breaths while injured. Shallow breathing can lead to pneumonia following a rib fracture.

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