Jeremy James, DC, CSCS
Founder of GolfForever
Here’s a scenario you might find familiar: You start a round of golf feeling great and excited about the day ahead. Then, a few holes in, it happens. Your lower back starts acting up and the rest of the round you’re focused more on your pain than anything else. Fact is, low back pain is the most common complaint and injury in the game of golf. But, why?
Golf is a natural cause for pain
By its nature, the rotational forces of the golf swing create inherent risk to the lumbar spine (lower back). This is mainly because the golf swing is one-sided (asymmetrical), with high-velocity movement through the lower back repeated over and over which makes the lower back tissues, such as discs and joints, subjected to very high loads that can wear down and degenerate much faster than other areas of the body. The result is often tight, painful muscles that can lead to serious conditions over time such as disc bulges and herniations, arthritis, stenosis and more.
Solutions to eliminate and prevent low back pain while golfing
No matter how long you may have been struggling with back pain, there are proactive measures you can take to prevent it. For many golfers, the problems that cause low back pain respond well to mobility and strengthening exercises. Very few cases need surgery, if caught early enough, which leads to an important PSA for all golfers: Surgery for low back pain without radiculopathy (pain/numbness/tingling in the legs, arms, hands, feet) should not be considered without trying conservative measures first!
The power of two
There are two general categories of proactive exercise measures to prevent and relieve back pain associated with golf: strength/endurance and mobility.
1. Strength/Endurance: Building strength and endurance in key areas will enhance the body’s natural protective mechanisms against joint and soft tissue injury. Strong muscles act as a protective counter force against those created during the golf swing.
2. Mobility: Increasing mobility in certain areas takes pressure off of other areas where too much mobility can be damaging. This results in less rotational force being absorbed in the lower back and less risk of injury.
How to play golf without the fear of back pain
Committing to an exercise and mobility program specific for golf is crucial for preventing injury and pain over time. Even just two to three days of following the right program can make a world of difference in your ability to resist pain and injury and help you stay focused on par instead of pain.