So, your golf clubs are waiting at the door, you’ve put on your golf shoes and told your partner you’ll be back in the evening. You can’t wait to get out, play your 9 or 18 holes and have a drink with the boys at the 19th.
But you also have a nagging worry: what if your back doesn’t hold up? Because as you leaned over to put on your golf shoes – the ones you just spent a small fortune on – you felt a sharp pinch in your lower back.
Yes, the same pain that grabbed you during your last game of golf, and the one before, and the one before…
Most golfers know that pinch too well. Golf subjects your body to all kinds of twists and turns, and can severely injure the lower back and spine.
Of course, there’s no way you’re going to give up golf. A regular round may be the highlight of your day off.
So, don’t let pain stifle the passion. Take the following steps to ensure you finish every game in fighting form for the next round, and the next, and the next.
What can you do to help your lower back pain?
Before you even swing a club, and apart from telling your partner how long you are going to be (golf causes all kind of marital issues), you need to warm up your body.
Most golfers stretch left and right before teeing off, but that’s not enough. You need to stretch PROPERLY – at home or in the golf club – before hitting the green.
Ideas for stretches.
First, make sure you know what you are doing so you don’t cause further injury. Always walk for a few minutes to warm up your body and increase blood flow to your muscles and soft tissues.
As a Back Health Expert I specialize in solutions for low back pain. I’ve devised 7 key stretches that should ALWAYS be practiced before any sport, but especially golf! These stretches have been packaged in what I call The back to basics toolkit.
There are also links here to my free eBook:
The 5 most common causes of low back pain.
( Click here to download my Ebook Free )
A must read for anyone who suffers from low back pain.
By knowing what causes low back pain and making simple changes to your daily habits, you can minimize damage to your low back and even prevent it altogether.
Your stretches should emphasize the shoulder, back, torso and hips, as well as your hamstrings. (1)
- Stand straight, hold a golf club behind your neck and shoulders, rotate your torso. Do it slowly and be aware of sucking in your stomach, keeping your back straight and your body in alignment.
- Lie on your back and pull your knees to chest. One at a time, or at the same time. Keep your lower back deep into the ground, i.e. don’t arch.
A warm-up is vital
You can practise your golf swing any time and anywhere. Well, not at a dinner party, but certainly during your lunch hour and at any time away from your desk or computer.
On the morning of your game, spend a few minutes on some imaginary golf swings. Again, stretch a little before you swing, but keep your body in limbo in readiness for the REAL swing!
Regular practice swings tone up your muscles so that your body won’t go into shock when you whack the ball for real.
Try some imaginary swings immediately before your game, too. And if you have time, head to the driving range for a few minutes before taking to the course. Even a few practice swings will warm the muscles incrementally.
The rule is to BEGIN SLOWLY so that your body is primed for the actual game.
Go for a S-M-O-O-T-H swing
If you want to alleviate back pain, keep your golf swing as smooth as possible. Develop a flowing rhythm.
A smooth swing causes a lot less stress on your muscles and therefore less back pain.
It also minimizes overload on your discs and facet joints.
All golfers run the risk of Facet Syndrome. Facets of the back are the small joints that run the length of your spine, from the sacrum to the skull.
Over-rotation in your golf swing can compress and injure these joints. Damage also is caused by a jerky swing, a sudden movement, and of course stiff muscles. (2)
The great benefit of golf lessons is having a professional focus on your body position and the smoothness of your swing. Take notice of what he or she says; it will affect not only your game but your overall health
Reverse Spine Angle
When you play golf, you are extending your upper body excessively – you know the movement when you swing. Your upper body bends backwards and rotates. The upper body dominates.
This means, while you are bent, the front side muscles deactivate. It may sound very complicated, but basically, when you go into the rotation, your front side muscles are not protecting your upper body – your back. Hence, you get lower back pain with golf. (3)
Can golf damage your lower back for good?
This is why it’s so important to look after your back from the beginning.
When you practice the exercises above, remember always to keep your shoulders straight and to suck in your stomach.
Beware of Reverse Spine Angle or any movement that may cause disc injury. And do seek professional treatment immediately if you experience acute pain. (4)
Carry your golf bag smartly
You might be one of the lucky guys, or gals, who uses a golf cart. But if are walking the golf course (walking is so good for you, by the way, but you know that) and you are carrying your golf bag, be smart about the way you carry your bag.
When you bend down to pick up your bag, repeatedly, you can strain the lower back muscles. And when you carry your bag over one shoulder only, you can strain your back.
So when you bend to pick up the bag, do it carefully and, we hate to repeat ourselves, keep your stomach sucked in (a strong core means a strong back) and bend your knees slightly. And if you are carrying the bag, rather use dual straps so you can divide the weight evenly amongst your body.
A few final things about golf and your body
Golf is the kind of sport that players get obsessive about. A golfer always wants to improve his figures, lower his handicap, get that elusive hole in one.
There are so many reasons why successful golfers become successful – they have natural talent, they are competitive, they have money (golf can be expensive as anything), they have access to the best golf teachers, and equipment – and very importantly – a good golfer looks after his body.
Yes, golf does put incredible strain on the body. You may feel the strain immediately when taking up golf, or after a few years. Prevention is always better than the cure!! Looking after the simple things like stretching before and after is paramount to a healthy low back. (5)
Look after your body. A successful golfer takes care. He or she has to, or they won’t be playing those 18 holes or joining in the PGA. Nobody else is going to look after your lower back except you.
Do your stretches, warm up your back, be careful out there, and always, always, try and be smooth!