Golf is a great sport for all ages to enjoy. It’s an excellent form of exercise, especially if the golfer skips the cart and walks the course. As with any sport, though, there is risk of injury.
How Golf Causes Low Back Pain
For golfers, the most common ailment is lower back pain. Amateur golfers who do not play frequently often demonstrate multiple inconsistencies in their swing, leading to injury resulting from poor mechanics.
Repeated twisting, combined with the force inherent in a golf swing, leaves the lower back susceptible to injury. Spinal muscles and facet joints work to help provide force during the golf swing. Overuse can cause stiffness and irritation in these joints and the surrounding muscles.
Abnormal motions coming from other areas of the body, including the hips and shoulders, can force the golfer’s lower back to do unnecessary, excessive work and may also cause harm.
While walking the course provides much more exercise than riding in a cart, carrying the golf bag in an improper manner can cause undue strain on back muscles. Likewise, bending over to pick up the bag, or even the golfball or club, may also stress the back.
Preventing Back Injuries from Golf
As with many health conditions, a little effort to prevent back injury and pain can go a long way.
- Warm up prior to playing.
Heading directly to the course first thing in the morning and hitting the ball as hard as you can is probably the easiest way to strain your back muscles and end up in pain. Instead, start with stretches that emphasize the shoulders, torso, and hips. Light, gentle warm-up swings will do wonders to loosen up your back before playing and will help prevent injury during your round. Overall, muscles that have been stretched and gradually loaded are less prone to being injured while playing golf and can take more stress before being strained or sprained.
- Learn and use proper form.
The objective of a golf swing is to develop significant club head speed, and to do this, a great deal of torque and torsion are applied to the lower back. With a proper swing, the shoulders, hips, chest, and lower spine all rotate to share the load of the swing. A fluid, rhythmic swing produces less stress and less low back pain. It is also important to remember to bend at the knees while picking up your ball, as repeated bending at the waist can cause unnecessary stress on the back.
To avoid back injury, beginners would be well advised to work with a golf pro when starting out, especially since most aspects of a golf swing are not natural or intuitive. Additionally, senior golfers with decreased flexibility and strength and anyone with lower back problems would benefit from lessons with a professional who is experienced at teaching golfers with bad backs.
- Carry your bag safely.
Choose a golf bag with a built-in stand. Repeated bending over to pick up a golf bag from the ground can stress the low back and lead to muscle strain. Bags that place all the pressure on one shoulder can also be hard on the back. Choosing a bag that has dual straps evenly divides the weight across the back and reduces the chances of developing low back pain from an uneven load.
A little knowledge and preparation can help keep you in the game.
Don’t let back pain keep you from enjoying the sport you love.
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