Exercise & Back Pain

By Teresa Justine Kelly

Back problems are the most common types of golf-related injury. The torque or rotation of the golf swing puts enormous pressure on your lower back. At some point in your golfing career, you might experience some form of back problem usually caused by muscular strains or sprains. Remaining fit and flexible will help to ensure that back problems do not occur. If they do, however, there are exercises you can perform to minimize your back problems, and physical therapy to help ease the pain, allowing you to golf comfortably throughout your lifetime.
 

Time Frame

The repetitive motion of the golf swing contributes to lower back problems. Over time, this repetition of rotating the upper body can cause stress to the lower back, resulting in muscular pain and pressure on sensitive spinal nerves. As we age, muscle mass and strength decrease, as well as bone loss and disk degeneration that can possibly lead to arthritis. The body loses flexibility and elasticity that compound back problems. Loss of flexibility results in poor swing mechanics that can contribute to lower back problems.

Prevention/Solution

In order to mitigate possible back injury, it is wise to stay in shape by exercising on a regular basis and maintaining a healthy weight. Always perform some stretching exercises before you begin your game of golf. An easy stretching exercise, like sitting on the edge of a chair or bench in the locker room and bending forward, stretching your arms towards the floor and holding this position for a few minutes, will aid in flexibility. Before you get to the first tee, gently rotate your body from side to side, loosening up stiff muscles and preparing your body for your round of golf. Take several easy practice swings with your club. To help stretch the hips, grasp one knee with your hands and bring it close to the chest and hold this position for a few seconds. Repeat with the other knee. A good exercise to do on a regular basis before you even get to the golf club is the seated twist exercise. Sit upright on a chair maintaining a straight back. Bring your left arm back as far as is comfortable, keeping your right hand on the outside of your left knee. Hold this position for a few seconds, then reverse the position using your right arm and right knee. This exercise naturally rotates your upper body, aiding in flexibility and range of motion.

Correct Swing

The very nature of the golf swing can place stress and strain on the back. Correcting your swing can aid in eliminating potential back problems. At address, make sure your knees are bent at about 25 to 30 degrees. Straight knees force your body to bend too far forward, putting more strain on your back. Flatten your swing plane if your plane is too steep. Over time, a steep swing plane can cause injury to your hips and your back. Always try to finish your swing in an upright position to reduce pressure on the lower back. An overarched finish (the reverse "C" shape) places strain on the lower back.

Treatment for existing back injury

If you have already sustained a back injury, the best treatment is rest and abstinence from golf and exertion for several days or weeks, allowing the body to heal itself. As you recover, incorporate a low-aerobic activity to help repair the strained muscles. A 30- to 40-minute walk every second day is an ideal exercise to gently repair injured muscles. Once you have recovered, return to your golf game, but practice some stretching and warm-up activities before your game to prevent a recurrence of your back problems.

Warning

While playing your game of golf, keep the swing as smooth and effortless as possible. Trying to power the ball by swinging hard will put stress and strain on the back. If you are a golfer who prefers to carry your clubs, select a lightweight bag with a double shoulder harness to evenly distribute the weight. Lighten your load by carrying just the equipment you will need for your round of golf. Carrying your clubs can cause the spine to shrink slightly during your round of golf.

About The Author

Teresa Kelly graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. She was an editor for seven years for several magazines and publishing houses. Kelly is an avid golfer, a well-known children's book and golf author, and is currently the president of Highview Press/Golfing Lady that produces all occasion golf greeting cards.

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