Whether you’re a new player or an old hand, golfing is most certainly a very popular sporting pastime amongst my patients. However, a large percentage of golfers may experience back pain in one form or another: some reports say that as many as 80% of amateur golfers injure their backs at some point.
This may not come as a surprise; when during a round of golf you have to swing your club 70-100 times. Consider the spinal rotation that goes into a golf swing and the fact that the speed of the club can reach up to 160 km/hour! It’s easy to understand that golf puts significant biomechanical stress on the body.
By simply aligning the body perfectly, everyone can play golf better with less effort and have more fun at the same time
What causes back pain while playing golf?
Inadequate stretching prior and post-match and incorrectly carrying heavy golf bags are the main causes, along with of course a poor technique. Swinging a golf club requires a smooth, repetitive motion, involving many different muscle groups in your neck, back, arms, and legs. This repetitive motion can create strain on your upper and lower back muscles in particular, which may not be strong enough to take the strain.
Here are a few simple techniques and points to help you prevent this.
Tips to avoid golf back pain
- Start slow – if you are new to golf, or haven’t played in a while, don’t overdo it. Start with short practice sessions on the driving range before tackling nine holes then build up to the whole course.
- Strengthen and condition your body – conditioning exercises that strengthen your core (the muscles in your back, abdomen, pelvis, and buttocks) can go a long way towards preventing injuries.
- Use the right technique for your physical capacity and limits – adopting a golf swing based on your physical and biomechanical capacity is important. Amateurs are usually better off adopting a classic golf swing, which enables the hips to turn nearly as much as the shoulders to minimise spinal twisting. If in doubt, consult a golf pro.
- Stretch – golf requires a balance of strength and flexibility. Golfers often don’t warm up properly before playing – if muscles are not prepared by a good stretching routine, this can lead to a lack of flexibility and injury. Spend two or three minutes warming up before teeing off. Stretch hamstring, quads, chest muscles and shoulders.
- Rest – this is an important part of keeping a healthy back that many golfers ignore. Swinging a golf club is not a movement that is natural to your body. Therefore, if you continue to play day after day, you are forcing your body to put up with strain. Give yourself some time to recover between games. Most importantly, if you do feel neck or back pain, stop playing until you can talk to your doctor or physiotherapist and rule out a serious injury.
On the course
- Drive – make the most of your swing; warm up on the driving range.
- Don’t forget that, like any sport, a good post-event stretch is also required.
- When picking up golf bags, bend carefully from the knees.
- Contrary to popular belief, trolleys are not the best way to caddy clubs as this builds unnecessary pressure from pulling and bending in the wrong positions. A power or electric caddy is the safest way to go around.
- Wear proper shoes for stability and to help avoid twisting the back and hips.