Tips To Avoid Back Pain From Golf
Golf is a more physical activity than many realize. Perfecting your golf swing takes years of practice and finding just the right movement and balance. However, the process also takes a toll on your back, especially if your swing is off.
Back pain is common among people who play golf. According to a study by the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), approximately 28% of golfers experience back pain after every round.
Here, we will discuss the causes of back pain, types of back injuries in golfers, and tips to avoid or treat back pain related to golfing.
What Causes Back Pain in Golfers?
The individual’s movements, muscle imbalances, and swing motion have a direct impact on the forces applied to the spine while swinging the golf club. Golfers need to assess their swing and understand how the body works during the swing to prevent injuries.
Over 25% of golfers in the United States are over 65. With age, the spine loses mobility and its ability to absorb forces that are applied to it. This makes older golfers more susceptible to back injuries.
Low back pain is the number one golf injury and accounts for nearly 35% of all golf injuries. These injuries can take 2-4 weeks to heal.
Common Back Injuries in Golf
When a golfer experiences a back injury, it is likely to be one of the following:
- Muscle strain – Also called a pulled muscle, a strain will likely heal itself after 2-4 weeks of rest although lingering stiffness is possible. Strains and sprains are common back injuries among golfers. Symptoms range from a dull ache to a sharp pain that is often localized to the lower back.
- Disc injury – The lumbar intervertebral disc acts as a spacer between the vertebrae to absorb compressive forces and create space for nerves. Injuries may occur due to swing abnormalities or a pre-existing disc condition that is aggravated by golf.
- Muscle and tendon attachment injuries – Muscle and tendon injuries are often caused by overuse, accidents, or swing abnormalities.
Tips to Avoid Back Pain While Golfing
Although low back pain is common among golfers, there are ways to continue your love of the game without injuring yourself.
1. Warm Up Properly
With any sport, one of the best ways to avoid injuries is to warm up your muscles and joints properly. Take a brisk walk. Stretch your wrists, arms, shoulders, and spine. Swing your golf club a few times, slowly at first, and then increase your speed and range of motion.
Additionally, warming up can improve your game. After warming up your muscles, go to the driving range before your round of golf. According to a study in the World Scientific Congress of Golf, the best way to warm up is to practice in a random manner. Hit several different shots with different clubs as if you are preparing for different situations on the course.
2. Keep a Neutral Spine
Maintaining a neutral spine is important for good posture and your golf swing. When your spine is properly positioned, it allows your other joints to align properly. This allows you to produce a more powerful swing without injuring yourself. Practice finding your neutral spine on and off the course to improve your posture and your game.
3. Change Your Swing Mechanics
Poor posture during your setup or throughout your swing can lead to back pain. If you do not line up correctly when preparing your swing or if you hang back too far, you are setting yourself up for pain. Additionally, not rotating properly through your hips and spine can cause excessive extension at the top of the backswing. Constantly repeating the same incorrect form is not a matter of IF, but WHEN back pain will occur.
Take a step back and assess your form. A thorough evaluation of your swing mechanics can help you understand the cause of your pain. Improving your swing mechanics is a win for your game in the long run.
4. Exercise to Improve Your Strength and Mobility
Many problems that cause lower back pain in golfers respond well to strengthening and mobility exercises. Building strength and endurance help to protect your joints and soft tissues from injury. Strong muscles help counter the forces that are created while swinging a golf club. In addition, improving your mobility takes the pressure off other areas of your spine.
Exercises, such as the diagonal pull pattern or quadruped thoracic spine rotation, build strength and mobility. This helps to prevent and relieve back pain caused by your golf swing.
5. See a Physician if Pain Persists
If you experience back pain while or after golfing, you may first try treating yourself at home. Rest and over-the-counter pain relievers may help relieve your back pain and give your injury time to heal itself. Avoid strenuous exercises, such as heavy lifting or bending, that may worsen the injury. Ice and heat may also help relieve your pain.
For pain that persists or more serious back pain, consult a specialist in sports medicine. Your physician will perform a comprehensive physical examination and may evaluate your movements through your golf swing. He may also request diagnostic testing to determine the underlying problem.
Get Back Pain Relief from a Golf Injury
The recommended treatment for low back pain from a golf injury depends on the actual problem and the severity. Treatments may include the following:
- Physical therapy
- Surgery (usually as a last resort)
Contact Advanced Sports & Spine
Let us help ease your back pain and improve your range of motion. At Advanced Sports and Spine, we offer diagnosis and treatment for golf-related back pain in Charlotte. Dr. Ahmad utilizes an integrative approach to pain management and will get you back on the course quickly.
Get rid of your low back pain! Book an appointment today.