With the warmer weather approaching, the driving ranges and golf courses will become much busier with golfers eager to start the season. Although golf is usually perceived as a fairly low impact, leisure activity, it has been estimated that every year roughly 40% of recreational golfers sustain an injury, with the most common site of injury being the lower back. Research has shown that the compression force going through the lumbar spine in amateur golfers when driving the ball, is roughly 6100 N. In comparison, cadaver studies have shown that a lumbar disc will herniate at forces around 5500 N. As such, although the golf swing appears fluid and easy, there is certainly enough force produced in the spine to lead to lower back injury. Many other factors can lead to lower back pain, including aspects of the golf swing itself, overall fitness level and regular habits on the golf course, such as how you transport your clubs, whether you warm up or not and how often you practice.
Why do golfers get lower back pain and what can you do to prevent it?
The core muscles play a critical role in protecting and stabilizing the lower back during the golf swing. Furthermore, using these muscles properly during the golf swing has also been shown to help increase club head speed and power. Research has shown that golfers with lower back pain have decreased core strength and don’t use their core properly during their golf swing. A golf specific core exercise program begins with learning how to isolate the key muscles to progressions on how to incorporate them into your golf swing. TIP: Next time you’re getting ready to hit the ball, reduce the amount of stress on the lower back structures by turning on your core muscles. In order to do this, think about drawing in your belly button and tightening your abdominal muscles prior to starting your backswing.
Flexibility is a key component, especially in the hips, shoulders and trunk in order to achieve a full range of motion from the back swing to the follow through. Research has shown that lack of rotation in the hips (especially the lead hip) will put increased stress through the spine. TIP: If you are l