Avoid Low Back Pain

Tips to Avoid Low Back Pain Associated with Golf

Lower back pain is the number one reported injury in golf.  Poor posture, swing techniques, wrong equipment, muscle imbalances and over-use are all attributed to causing lower back pain.  While not every golfer will incur a serious lower back injury, the majority of golfers will at least suffer from low back pain at some point in their golf career.

A study of PGA players indicate that approximately 77% of all professional golfers report acute or chronic low back pain related to the golf swing.  The majority of professional golfers train to meet the demands of the rotational stresses created from the golf swing.  They are in top physical condition with near perfect swings, yet nearly three out of every four still incur back pain.  Compared to many amateur golfers that are overweight with poor swing mechanics, it should not be a surprise when a player suffers a back injury.  The following techniques will help prevent low back pain.

Golf Rx: A 15-Minute-a-Day Core Program for More Yards and Less Pain

Golf Rx: A 15-Minute-a-Day Core Program for More Yards and Less Pain

Stretching

Stretching is considered an essential part of any fitness activity that will help decrease the risk of injury and improve performance.  Static stretching is the traditional form of preparing your body for the necessary athletic movements.  Static stretching refers to holding a stretch with no movement, such as touching your toes.  Dynamic stretching actively involves moving a joint through the range of motion required for a sport.  In recent years, dynamic stretching has become the preferred method while some believe static stretching does not help performance before a competition.  Whatever form of stretching you prefer, learn the proper way to complete the stretch.  In addition, avoid any bouncing movements throughout the stretching movement.

Prevention

The best way to avoid low back pain is to prevent it from happening through a strength and flexibility exercise program.  Many golfers believe a strength training program will have a negative effect on performance and decrease their range of motion.  The proper training program will help improve your golf game and prevent injury.  All body parts that are being strengthened should also be stretched to maintain flexibility.  In golf, strength is useless without flexibility.

Strengthening muscles that support the spine with exercise can prevent, reduce and eliminate low back pain.  Many injuries in golf result from muscle imbalances.  Weak core muscles are often at the root of low back pain.  Make it a priority to strengthen muscles in the back, abdomen, hips and buttocks that work together to support the spine.

Swing Improvements

Improve your golf swing.  Many golfers compensate for faults throughout their swing.  Limitations or extra movements may not prevent you from playing well, however, they will put you at risk for injury.  Schedule a lesson with a golf professional and improve your technique.

The golf swing is dependent on doing the previous move correctly.  The correct golf swing begins by setting up correctly.  Therefore, improve your posture in your set up.  Poor posture is often the result of muscle imbalances.  Common posture mistakes occur when the shoulders are slumped forward at address while creating roundness to the back from the tailbone to the back and neck.  Creating too much arch in the lower back while in the set up position is another common posture mistake.

The majority of golfers would like to hit the ball farther and more consistent.  Additional benefits of a strength and flexibility program include increasing club swing range and swing speed which result in more distance.  Also, improving swing technique could potentially increase swing speed, contact and produce more distance.

Matt Keller, PGA                                                                                                                                                              keller@pga.com
Golf Simplified: How to Learn Your Fundamentals

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2 comments

    • James Williams on March 2, 2013 at 9:06 am
    • Reply

    Matt, I think your right on with the muscle imbalances leading to strains in the back. It is the most commonly injured area, and since Golf involves using a movement and stance that relies on it for stability, it is little wonder that problems with it have been a somewhat common occurrence.
    I think the most effective mechanisms to target the back might actually be more routine stretching/practice swings before “going at it”, and perhaps the best – weight lifting targeted at that area.
    The back is strained because the pressure and added weight placed on it is not enough for the fibers within it (for example, if some neighboring muscle is weak, you are adopting a posture that allows the back to compensate for that, but it must also be stronger as well) – the natural solution is to make it stronger.

    I used to have issues with my lower back until a gift came my way: deadlifts. You are targeting the lower area of your back to sustain a certain amount of weight, and you are more stable, balanced, and strong as a result. Now, not only are you not strained from just simple standing (which is not much pressure), but you can bend over and lift so many hundreds of pounds off the floor with all the pressure being dispersed evenly. You also are training yourself to adopt a posture (forward lean, drive with the heel of your feet) where the pressure from gravity is being dispersed mostly in your legs (if the movement becomes more and more common, you unconsciously start bending over this way, etc).

    Short story short, if you weight train with exercises targeted at your back (Through your own, personal training, whichever is the most convenient), your back will be stronger (strong enough to endure the simple mechanics of carrying a bag and swinging) and you will also unconsciously adopt the mechanics of stance in your daily bendings and movings that best facilitate even dispersal of pressure.

  1. Thanks for sharing these amazing tips! So glad I stopped by your blog to read it! I bookmarked it! Me and my friends play golf very often so it’s important to know!

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