If you suffer from lower back pain after a round of golf you're not alone. It is one of the most common health problems sustained on the golf course; a study in Australia found it was the cause of 25% of all golfing injuries.
The repetitive nature of the swing is quick to cause this often debilitating overuse injury and if your technique is less than perfect that can exacerbate the problem. Overly energetic swings as you drive off the tee and fairways can lead to muscle strains. Poor posture and stiffness can also make things worse.
Everyday golfers tend to sustain more injuries than the pros and more injuries occur as players get older. One of the reasons that we become more susceptible to overuse injuries as we get older is because the joint and tendon tissues become less able to withstand stress. So as we get older we have to do more to support our bodies to continue to work properly.
How can I prevent lower back pain spoiling my game?
A review of literature, published in the Spine Journal in 2008 concluded that "proper conditioning to avoid imbalances in the trunk muscles, strengthening of the stabilizing trunk muscles, flexibility exercises, warming up for 10 minutes before playing, and coaching of a more classic golf swing could be beneficial to golfers with lower back pain."
Work on your swing with a professional coach to iron out any defects and speak to your physiotherapist who can prescribe a number of treatments, from manipulation and postural correction to strengthening exercises to relieve and prevent pain.
Warm up before your game
Like any exercise, warming up effectively before you start can help ward off injuries by loosening your muscles and preparing them for the stress of the game. First do some gentle stretches, paying attention to shoulders, body, hips and hamstrings - all of the muscles you use during your game. Knee to chest stretches will help loosen hips, touching toes can stretch your hamstrings and twisting your body from side to side with a club behind your neck can help warm up your torso. Then do some practice swings. Use your smaller iron clubs to start and progress to the heavier wooden ones.
Exercises off the green
Pilates aim to support the body with an emphasis on developing core strength. It can help to relieve back pain as well as preventing it, but to be safe and effective, exercises need to be tailored to you as an individual and overseen by a qualified health professional. As well as strengthening muscles to enable them to withstand the stresses of your golf swing, it can help you to improve your posture, flexibility and motion – all of which can help you to improve your game: no wonder Tiger Woods is a famous fan.
The Pelvic Tilt supports and lengthens your lower back:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Your feet, ankles, and knees should be aligned and hip-distance apart and your spine should be neutral (not pressed into the floor).
- As you exhale pull your abdominal muscles in so that your bellybutton moves down toward your spine, pressing it into the floor.
- Your back should be lengthened against the floor and your pelvis is tilted so that the pubic bone is a little higher than the hip bones.
- Inhale to release back to the floor.
Extend your Pelvic Tilt into a Pelvic Curl:
- As you inhale, press down through your feet allowing your tailbone to begin to curl up toward the ceiling.
- Slowly raise your hips, then your lower spine and the middle spine.
- Come to rest on your shoulders at the level of your shoulder blades. You should achieve a straight line from your hips to your shoulders. Engage your abdominals and hamstrings to support this movement.
- As you exhale slowly roll your spine back down to the floor vertebrae by vertebrae, controlling this movement with your abdominal muscles until you reach your neutral spine position.
- Repeat three to five times.
If you're already experiencing lower back pain always seek medical advice before starting any new exercise. BMI Healthcare's physiotherapists can recommend exercises and other therapies that could help.
As well as treating any injury, we will evaluate the underlying causes to help prevent future problems, such as improving posture. If you need further treatment, we can facilitate a fast referral to an orthopaedic surgeon.
To book your consultation call us on 0800 404 6660.