Golf and Low Back Pain

As with so many health conditions, a little effort to prevent back injury and low back pain goes a long way.  Three key areas of prevention for the sport of golf include: warm-up, swing, and bio mechanics.

1. Warm-up before playing golf to prevent low back pain

Going directly to the tee at 7:00 AM, pulling out the driver, and then proceeding to try to hit the cover off the ball is probably the surest way to sprain one’s back muscles and result in low back pain.  Instead, a thorough warm-up before starting to golf-including stretching and easy swings-is critical for the muscles to get ready for the game.  Simply touching toes and easy turns is the beginning.

2. Practice swinging before playing golf to prevent low back pain

The objective of a golf swing is to develop significant clubhead speed, and to do this a lot of torque and torsion is applied to the low back.  Golfers should emphasize a smooth, rhythmic swing, as this produces less stress and low back pain.

With a proper swing, the shoulder, pelvis (hip), and thoracolumbar segments (chest and lower spine) rotate to share the load of the swing.  The shoulder and hip turn, along with the wrist snap, will produce more clubhead velocity than a stiff arm swing.

3. Good balance

While golfing is achieved by slightly bending the knees and keeping the feet approximately shoulder-width apart, the spine should be straight, and the golfer should bend forward from the hips.  Weight should be distributed evenly on the balls of the feet.

As most golfers will agree, while developing an easy, fluid swing may be desirable in terms of reducing stress to the low back and preventing low back pain, this is often easier than done.  To avoid a low back injury, beginners would be well advised to work with a golf pro when starting out, since most aspects of a golf swing are not natural or intuitive.  Additionally, golf lessons may be useful for senior golfers who have decreased flexibility and strength.