“Dear, The Golfing Doc; My back bothered me all of last year and it hurt every time I played golf. Any suggestions on how to make it better for this new year? Thanks. Ian D., Seattle, WA”.
Most golfers suffer from low back pain. This is commonly due to improper biomechanics, poor technique, and lack of golf-specific physical conditioning. When you have back pain, it not only affects your golf game but also other aspects of your daily living.
Biomechanics describes how the body moves. Your body is built a specific way, therefore it can only move in that specific way. The body can compensate for an injury or physical limitation. But when that happens, your biomechanics will change. Your body will compensate so that you can still swing that club! Anatomically, the lower back is built for forward and backward movement. It really isn’t meant to rotate. If you try to rotate in the lower back, it will eventually result in lower back pain.
When it comes to swing technique, tour players like Justin Day or Dustin Johnson can swing the way they do because of their unique body make-up and their natural athletic abilities. But if you’re a golfer with little flexibility, it’s pretty easy to see how imitating these techniques can result in back pain. When working on your swing technique and when looking for a good instructor, always build a swing based on what your body can do safely and not on trying to copy another person’s swing.
Physical fitness is a key factor in maintaining a strong and healthy back, but your strength and conditioning must be golf-specific. By this I mean that going to the gym and lifting weights every day may actually do nothing for your golf game. In fact, it may make your swing worse. Golf conditioning is very specific and it is important you find a fully knowledgeable trainer. Here are five simple things you can do to keep your lower back pain-free and to help ensure proper core strength, hip mobility, and glute activation:
- Get Treatment. If you are having back pain, see a qualified healthcare professional for proper evaluation and care. If you continue to play with back pain, it will only get worse and cause other injuries. Back pain, tightness, and stiffness are not something you have to live with unless you have had a significant amount of trauma. Most of the chronic lower back pain patients I see could have been treated early and this chronic condition could have been prevented.
- Get Lessons. Even if you are a low handicap golfer with back pain, a lesson is always a good idea. This lesson may help you to identify contributing issues such as bad posture, over-swinging, bad technique.
- Get Stronger. Once you have had your back evaluated and begun treatment, start strengthening your core. This includes your abdominal muscles, gluteal muscles, breathing muscles, and more. Take a look at the photos for some sample exercises courtesy of our GOLFLETICA college players.
- Get in Shape. Although a strong core will help, you also need to work on your general conditioning. Doing some cardio such as the elliptical machine and stationary bike are easy, low impact exercises. Try doing intervals of 30 second sprints followed by 30 seconds of rest or low speed. Do this 3 times a week for about 10 to 15 minutes a session.
- Get Moving. For those of you who are stuck in a sedentary position at work, whether it is standing or sitting for hours, get up and move regularly. As a general rule, don’t get stuck in one position for more than 20 minutes.
For more information on GOLFLETICA golf performance services, visit our website at www.GOLFLETICA.com.