Back into Action Osteopathic Group
Lower Back Pain and Golf
How to avoid injury and optimize your game on your favourite course.
Did you know?
- Lower back pain is the number one injury sustained by golfers, which can easily be avoided with a few lifestyle changes.
- The impact and follow-through phase of the golf swing accounts for the most injuries when compared to the other phases.
- The modern swing: separating the hips and shoulders as much as possible during the backswing (X-factor), gains more power and finishes in lumbar hyperextension (reverse C-position) increases pressure on the spine.
- The golf swing produces large loads in the spine, particularly during the downswing to follow-through. These loads are well above the force needed to cause prolapsed intervertebral discs in cadavers. These intense loads may strain muscles, injure facet joint and lumbar discs and cause spondylosis.
- With low back pain, golfers have up to twice less trunk flexion velocity during the downswing. Due to the length of the golf club, even small variations in movement are amplified resulting in large changes in club-head trajectory and speed, which can largely affect performance.
- The modern swing is most commonly taught today because the X-factor creates optimal power. It has higher activation of both erector spinae (the intrinsic spinal muscles critical for spinal movement and function), especially in the follow-through phase. A golfer who uses the modern swing and has a history of low back pain is likely to have pain reoccur because of his or her swing and the body’s inability to adapt to the increased erector spinae demand.
How do I prevent or avoid reoccurrence of back pain?
- Core strengthening is essential in preventing injury in the golf swing. Learning how to activate the diaphragm, pelvic floor and abdominals is central to stabilization of the trunk during respiration and postural activity.
- Alongside addressing core instability and weakness, shoulder mobility, scapular stability, thoracic rotation/extension, hip mobility/stability, ankle mobility, balance, and shoulder deceleration control all should be addressed as well.
- Adopt an alternative swing: classic swing, hybrid swing (neutral spine during finish, thereby protecting lumbar facets) or shorter swing.
- Push your cart instead of pulling.
- Carry your golf bag on both shoulders (dual backpack strap distributes the clubs more evenly across both shoulders).
- Reduce bodyweight: increased bodyweight is a significant risk factor for low back pain especially among golfers.
- Visit Matthew Henderson (osteopath) who understands the mechanics of golf, to assess and address the biomechanical causes of the pain and to optimize functional control.
Dr. Matthew Henderson B.App.Sci. (Osteopathy)
References: Finn, C. (2013). Rehabilitation of low back pain in golfers: from diagnosis to return to sport. Sports Health, 5(4): 313-319.