Back pain is a common issue among golfers of all ages, and especially from senior golfers. As it is something every golfer is likely to face, it is important to understand the problem and how best to avoid it, as well as how to recuperate from this injury.
Most back injuries come from hyperextending muscles and/or tendons during your swing. The lower L5 and S1 vertebrae are especially susceptible to injury from golf swings. Minor discomfort is often from small tears in muscles around this region which cause pain and limited motion. Tendons and ligaments are also prone to injuries from playing golf. The pain may begin immediately or can develop within a few hours of finishing your round, an can occur in either the lower of upper back.
Stretching to Prevent Injuries
The best way to stop back injuries is through prevention. An easy way to prevent back injuries is to work on your flexibility. Yoga is very good for maintaining flexibility, and that added flexibility can also add distance to your swings. You should also stretch before every game and after prolonged periods of inactivity, such as after taking a break with the concessions cart. One simple stretch involves placing a club horizontally in your lower back and elbows while rotating side to side. This can then be repeated with the club held in place behind your neck to stretch all parts of the back. Fold forward a few times, keeping your back straight, to further limber up your back. The lower back can also be stretched by standing one leg and drawing your knee towards your chest. Repeat a few times with each leg.
Use a Cart
Other back injuries occur from lugging a large, heavy golf bag with only one strap. Golfers who carry their oversized bags while walking, or even just from the cart path risk injury. It’s always easier to simply carry a few clubs from the cart to your ball rather than lug the whole bag. If walking, use a hand cart if possible. If not, use a light bag with dual straps to carry the weight ergonomically and help prevent back strain.
Rehabbing Back Injuries
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, back injuries still occur. When that happens the best action is to simply stop playing and rest. It may be tempting to finish your round but is it truly worth it if you further injure your back? Once resting, alternate hot and cold packs to the affected area in 20-30 minute intervals. Gentle stretching and moderate low strain exercise is then the best way to finish rehabbing your back. Take a walk, do some light stretches, and work yourself up to more vigorous excercise. Remember, don’t rush your way back. If it hurts, stop doing it. Sounds simple, but many successful recoveries have been derailed by the desire to start playing before you are truly ready. Let yourself be pain free for several days before attempting to swing a club, let alone play a full round.