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If its been a couple of days, i would recommend heat for 15-20 minutes and gently stretch the area. Once pain subsides, progressively (1/2-3/4 to full swings) get back to playing. Also, strengthening the area wouldn't hurt!!!

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Switching to heat after a couple days of icing periodically is good advice. If you find that the area is aggravated after a day at the office or driving in your car or you make a quick movement that sparks up some pain then you may want to ice it and then go back to the heat. I had an intercostal injury and was lucky enough to be working in a chiropractor's office at the time. I got massage therapy daily which helped although it was very painful.

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The best advice for an intercostal strain is DON'T RUSH IT. Don't make a few half swings, feel fine and then start thinking, I'll make a few full ones. That's how you tweak it and prolong the injury. Take some antiinflammatories like ibuprofen and make sure not to overestimate your progress and reinjure yourself.



+1! Intercostal tears are notoriously slow to heal. Sometimes they are mistaken for costal-chondral separations, which are also slow to heal as well. My doctor said he has seen cases that take 6-8 MONTHS to resolve completely.


I tore mine on the right side on a big swing follow through, after not properly warming up (more important as you age). I felt fine after a couple months when making normal movements and easy swings. Then I tore it again on a full driver swing. There is a significant amount of sudden rotational torsion on a big follow through that you might not see in everyday activities. The problem is scar tissue can shorten the fibers in that spot so it becomes the point where you run out of slack first on a big move. So it is vulnerable to reinjury.


Rest, massage, 20 min ice/ 20 min warm -on and off, anti inflamatories (naproxen), and easy stretching as soon you can tolerate it. Let pain be your guide on that but be aware that if you swing big you might find out you were not as healed or limber as you thought. Then you get to start all over.


After you recover- Warm up and stretch every time.

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i went through this last year... twice.. hurts like a mother


the quickest way to recovery i found was to put pressure on the spots where it hurts for as long as you can then let go... repeat


the first time i strained it i just rested and it took almost a month before i was playing again.. the 2nd time i was alot more impaitient and kept putting pressure on it and i was playing again after 4-5 days


you have to put alot of pressure... like to the point where i had minor bruising along the ribcage..my hands would also ache from the pressure i was using... specifically i would put pressure on the spots where it hurt and sorta move my fingers along the rib that the muscle was on... or put pressure on the spots and then rotatate to stretch... hurts while doing it but when you let go there is a feelling of relief


not sure if you have the same thing i had... but mine was injured from a wierd follow thru move and it feels like you got punched in the side of the ribcage and hurts when you cough or laugh.. i think what i had was more of a muscle spasm in the intercostal and the pressure eventually freed the muscle from the spasm...

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  • 5 years later...

Long time since anyone wrote on this topic, just wanted to see if anyone has found a good method for rehabilitation?

I am having issues with the same injury.

I was at the range and was working on my driver distance and shape (hitting them well for once). There was about 4-5 guys standing behind me commenting on the distance after every shot. Being the tosser that I am I started to push my limits and got injured. I know I deserved it.

On Thursday I felt like it was clear so I thought Saturday I would hit a few 50% shots at the range, it was a bad idea, I have a lot of problems sleeping because of the pain which is much worse when laying down.

Any help for a quick recovery would be appreciated.


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Played a national championship week after . Mine had huge bruise . Made the cut swinging waste high, brutal pain and maybe should not have played. Had mine for better part of 3-4 yrs . Long lasting injury, be careful don't rush it.

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I have never hurt my foot before.
Just kidding.
With any injury, dont repeat the cause
Heat and Ice I heard helps. So does 800mg Ibuprofen.

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I read the title fast and thought you had "intercoastal strain" and were rubbing it in to us northerners. To which I was going to reply it's "intracoastal" unless you were trading goods...

that being said, sorry to hear and take advice from your doctor.... not a message board

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I had the whole right side strain while I was wrestling. Guy torqued me the opposite way I wanted to go, and it was the loudest POP I thought I broke something!!
Referee and coaches could hear it. Sounded like cracking your knuckles but really loud. Took about 2 month to heal and that was with therapy with the muscle electronic shock stimulator thingy.

Take it slow!!

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I gave golf a rest for 2 weeks and did some swimming before trying to hit a few 40% shots at the range. I felt pain straight away and decided I would need little longer. I continued to swim for 2 weeks more (when the weather was good) and still felt pain when sleeping but thought I should see if swinging was going to keep me on the side line for longer. I stretched for a couple of minutes and warmed up without hitting a ball. After my first few shots I stil had no pain in my ribs but my back muscles on the other side tightened up and became slightly agrovated. I took a day off and came back to try again. Still had slightly tight back after a few shots. I started stretching that specific spot for the next two days and went back to the range today. I hit them ok considering the time off and had no pain. I still can't go after the driver but the 3 wood is almost at full length (within 15mtrs of driver at the moment)
Still get slight pain when sleeping but much better than before.

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  • 6 months later...

For those folks who have had this injury during the golf swing, be sure to focus on your breathing. Taking a full breath, expanding the ribs, then swinging hard is a sure way to pull those intercostal muscles along the side, especially us older guys. Be sure to let out half your breath (a la Tom Watson). This will take some of the stress off the intercostal muscles when following through.

A physical therapist told me the best way to get that full turn without stretching the intercostal muscles is , as he said it, push out the tummy (get fat), let out half your breath and make a slow takeaway.

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Agreed - don't rush it. If you feel good enough to play, it might be fun to to do a minimal (5-8 clubs) round or two with easy swings from forward tees. This gives you some nice iron work and course management practice, not to mention fun bump and run opportunities.

I strained mine last year. Ended up taking a month off. Tiger Balm helps, too. That stuff worked miracles when I was into martial arts.

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This happened to me the first time this year when I started hitting balls again after a very long break from golf. I did nothing but slow motion swings and mirror work for a month and then I was good to hit balls again with only minor residual rib pressure. From reading other threads it looked like "intercostal strain" and apparently it takes some people a lot longer to fully recover depending on the level of injury.

When I first started feeling some side pressure at the range, it was minor and I continued practicing. It was at its worse a couple days later.

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I've been out of the game 3 months now due to a rib injury. Just now starting to feel a little closer to normal, but may still be a few weeks or even months until I'm back to swinging a golf club. I have not really been the same person since, it has been horrible to say the least. I pretty much woke up one random day 3 months ago and became disabled, and I'm "only" 29. At first I thought it was intercostal, but doctors all point out healing consistent with rib fractures on my Xrays. To be honest, I'm still not sure what is wrong with me and I've pretty much given up on wasting money going to doctors.

I have read every single page that exists on the internet about these injuries during my down time, including just about every forum post that ever brought it up. I've even PMed a few posters on WRX who started injury topics. Here is what I've learned.

Almost every rib injury has the same symptoms and you are not going to be able to diagnose yourself. Intercostal strains are quite common in sports like golf and rowing, but it turns out it is the most over/misdiagnosed injury in these sports too. It's just as likely you have a fracture (even without other trauma) or dislocated ribs (subluxation). Both are more common than people realize. You do not want to be stretching a rib that is cracked, and anti inflammatory actually slows down bone healing. Your best bet is to just suck it up and let whatever it is heal naturally.

The good news is almost every rib injury just requires rest to get better, even the worst ones that can last months. The bad news is, because of this most doctors won't even bother to find the real issue, or will just guess and tell you to rest it. I had quite a few doctors even tell me there is nothing they can do to help me, so they won't even schedule me an appointment.

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  • 3 years later...
  • 7 months later...

Man ..this happened to me today ! Took a hard swing through some deep , gnarly rough and felt a stabbing "pop/spasm" in left side of back/ribcage! Tried to swing after it and couldn't. I have a round of golf at an exclusive private club that I've been looking forward to play , in 18 days . Feel like I took massive karate chops to side of the ribs .

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  • 3 months later...

Ditto.... on range yesterday..... big driver swing and 'crack/pop.' ..... Kind of a weird sensation..... and stupid on my part because I was nursing a mild strain and thought I was ready to go. One reads about the three categories of muscle strain and the 'pop' of a muscle is associated with a grade 3 strain (most severe) type of muscle injury. But other conditions associated with grade 3 aren't present. Conditions like bruising, loss of use or function of what muscle is attached to, bruising, swelling and possible visible deformation in the injured area. In my case, I heard a pop or crack, felt a sharp pain, and now have what feels like a normal muscle strain or pull. No other visible symptoms. And the description/location matches perfectly with intercostal description. Guess I just ice/heat it and lay off everything. Not sure what more I'd learn by going to Dr.

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