Swinging Styles Contribute to Back Pain
It’s actually the modern way of playing the sport that is detrimental to the spine. For example, to swing correctly, you’ll have to separate your hips and shoulders during the backswing. At the end of the swing, you’ll be in a position of lumbar hyperextension. Also, by contracting your abdominal muscles during the follow-up phase and rotating your trunk with feet planted in one place, the intervertebral disc is highly stressed.
The increased pressure in the spine during the downswing to follow-through is great enough to be considered equivalent to football linemen hitting a sled. The pressure experienced in golfing exceeds the pressure needed to cause a prolapse of the disc. However, with older individuals more prone to develop osteoporosis later in life, the increased pressure in the spine from golf could be enough to fracture a rib or vertebrae, let alone cause stress fractures.
Another common occurrence in golfers is injury to the paraspinal muscles. MRI scans have revealed tears in these muscles, especially in amateur golfers. Treatment of the muscle injuries is generally centered on rest and relaxation, core muscle strengthening sessions, and correcting the incorrect movement pattern that caused the injury to begin with.
Tips for Avoiding Back Pain from Golf:
Simple preventive steps can go a long way in preventing low back pain in golfers. Here’s a list of some of those steps.
- Make sure your club fits your body.
- Treat golf like you might treat running – not as a weekend athlete, but someone who plays the sport two or three times a week every week. This will prevent the “de-conditioning” of your muscles that occurs between golf sessions that makes you more susceptible to injury. Avoid golf sprees of five times in one week and none the next.
- Push that golf cart. Don’t pull it.
- Use a long putter during one round. This will decrease stress on the spine.
- To carry a golf bag, use the ones that have a dual backpack strap.
- Lose any excess weight before you start the sport.
- See your local chiropractor to ensure you’re using proper body mechanics to prevent back injuries from golf and everyday activities. Chiropractors can also keep your spine properly aligned to reduce your risk of herniated discs and pain from osteoarthritis.
Finn, Christopher. Rehabilitation of Low Back Pain in Golfers: From Diagnosis to Return to Sport. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach 2013. DOI: 10.1177/1941738113479893.
Written by: Donna Schwontkowski on May 6, 2014.
Last revised by: Marissa Luck About Author Dr. Donna Schwontkowski Dr. Donna Schwontkowski is a retired chiropractor with a M.S. and Bachelor's in Nutrition and a Master's in Herbology. During chiropractic school, she created accelerated learning methods for chiropractic students to learn half a semester's worth of coursework in 3 to 6 hours. Her Million Dollar Memory methods have now been adapted to teaching grade school students.