If you’re shouting “Aaargh!” during your golf game instead of “Fore!” you might be experiencing golf-related lower back pain. It’s not only affecting your game, but hurting your mobility and your comfort level both on and off the course.
What came first, the back pain or the golf? The answer is, a bit of both.
The Golf/Back Pain Link
With nearly a quarter of pro golfers touring with back pain, it’s no wonder that the stats are even higher for amateurs: an estimated 28.1% suffer lower back pain. Why is the game so hard on the back? Because it’s hard on the rest of the body, and your back often overcompensates.
Playing golf requires freedom of movement in the hips, ankles, upper back and shoulders. When these areas lack strength or sufficient mobility, the lumbar spine kicks into overdrive, until one or more of these injuries occur:
- Sprained/strained muscles and ligaments in the lower back area
- Torn or ruptured spinal discs
- Degenerative arthritis
- Stress fractures
The resulting back pain obviously hinders performance, causing even more stress and strain on the body as you further compensate to try to get your game back.
Preventing Golf-Related Back Pain
The best thing you can do to prevent lower back injury while playing golf is to develop strength and mobility in the muscles that support your swing. The golf swing requires tremendous strength and mobility in the hips and thoracic spine, which were designed to rotate – your lower back wasn’t.
If you don’t build mobility in the hips, you risk taking awkward postures, like bending too far to the right. When you’re moving properly through the hips and shoulders, the lumbar spine can get the rest it needs. It’s also important to strengthen your core abdominals and glutes so you can maintain a neutral posture and still get the much-needed power behind your swing.
Short Term Back Pain Treatment for Golfers
If your game is already affected by low back pain, there are things you can do to reduce inflammation and repair damage to the muscles and joints.
Good post-game back pain treatment includes:
- Ice packs, hot tubs, heating pads – find whatever combination works best for you
- Drinking lots of water and eating foods rich in carbohydrates
- Getting lots of sleep
If you have a more serious injury, the following can help:
- Electrical stimulation (TENS machine)
- NSAIDs and muscle relaxers (recommended for short-term use)
- Taking time off from golf and initiating a program of gentle exercise
Longer Term Back Pain Treatment? Call a Chiropractor
If chronic back pain returns when you play golf, it may be time to pull out the big guns and begin an intensive trial of chiropractic therapy.
This will work to restore normal stability and motion in the spine, which in turn causes the surrounding joints, muscles and connective tissues to relax and heal on their own.