Posted on Tue Oct 1, 2019
Golf is an increasingly popular sport worldwide, as evidenced by its inclusion as an Olympic Sport in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. However, back pain can prove disastrous for golfers.
Low back pain in golfers accounts for up to 54% of all injuries sustained with numerous studies finding it to be the most common injury for golfers. As with low back pain in the general population there can be numerous factors that cause it but there is little doubt that the forces experienced during the golf swing itself can be problematic.
The advent of the more modern golf swing which focuses on torso rotation and hyper-extension means that there is an increased spinal load through the lower back in comparison to the older classic swing style.
This classic swing involves a large hip rotation accompanying shoulder rotation as shown in the pictures below.
The combination of large magnitude spinal forces combined with a high frequency of golf swings likely results in lower back injury over a period of time.
Figure 1. This image shows the modern follow-through (left) compared with the classic follow-through (right) (McHardy, Pollard and Bayley, 2006).
Particularly if you are a novice golfer. As with injuries in any sport, if you do “too much too soon” you will likely sustain an injury.
Technique is so important in golf. A golf pro will be able to give you very specific advice on swing technique, set up, club length etc. This will greatly minimize your risk of sustaining a back injury.
There is a lot of research that a reduction in the range of motion in your lead hip can increase the forces going through your lower back. A stiff upper back will also contribute to more force passing through your lower back.
Improving the strength and endurance of your spinal and gluteal muscles is an absolute must. Simply walking and playing golf is not enough.
Specific exercises to strengthen your back muscles are essential. Professional golfers nowadays spend a lot of time in the gym these days to reduce their risk of developing low back pain as well as improving their driving distance and general performance.
If you have any niggling low back pain it is much better to have this looked at early rather than late.
Early intervention lets us identify the factors that have contributed to your injury and allow us to put measures in place to reduce your pain and get you performing at your best level.
Bent over dumbell row
Cable torso rotation
Figure 1. McHardy, A., Pollard, H. and Bayley, G. (2006). A comparison of the modern and classic golf swing: a clinician’s perspective. South African Journal of Sports Medicine, 18(3), p.80.
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