One of the most common conditions I see at Premier is lower back pain in golfers. A golf swing can put tremendous amounts of force on the spine, leading to fatigue, stress, potential tissue damage, and pain.
Like any movement, the front line of defense for absorbing the forces of your golf swing are your muscles. In golf, this includes the muscles in the legs, core, and even upper back/shoulders. As long as all of these muscles are doing their jobs (absorbing force) properly, it’s unlikely you will experience any issues with lower back pain.
However, if you have experienced lower back pain while golfing, it’s probably because a muscle or muscles are not activating properly.
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If back pain is affecting your golf game or has forced you to stop playing golf, fear not. Your body is resilient and built to take on the forces associated with a swing (without pain). It’s simply a matter of getting the muscles to activate and absorb force properly. In order to do so, you’ll need to pursue a combination of finding the right swing, identifying strength deficits and/or imbalances in the body, and ensuring you have prepped the body (and nervous system) before swinging.
Here’s 3 steps to making that happen:
1) Work with a qualified strength trainer at least 2-3x/week
Ask others that you golf with if they know any good strength trainers in the area. From my experience, a good strength trainer’s name travels quickly and your friends will be happy to refer you to their own. The goal of your training would not be to bulk up like a body builder, but identify strength imbalances that could be leading to your back pain. Expect to do a lot of functional training that incorporates core stability and rotational exercises. If you need any help finding someone, let me know – we’ve got a great network local to the Hunt Valley area.
2) Introduce your swing coach to your strength trainer
If you have a swing coach, introduce him or her to your new strength trainer. They’ll be able to compare notes and come up with a few tips to minimize the strain on your back when you swing. If you do not have a swing coach, think about asking around to see if anyone you know has used one in the past that has been helpful in reducing pain levels.
3) Warm up properly before teeing off
A proper warm up has been shown to increase club head speed, increase ball speed, and increase carry, yet the majority of golfers do not warm up before teeing off. As if better performance isn’t enough justification, a proper warm-up can also decrease your risk for injury. By warming up properly, you neurologically activate the muscles needed to absorb the force created when you swing the club. An activated muscle will do a more efficient job of keeping stress off the back, reducing the risk of injury or pain. In order to effectively warm-up, consider doing more than just static stretching (for example: a toe touch hold is not a very effective warm-up). Instead, grab a resistance band and go through a series of upper and lower body exercises. During the exercises, don’t just ‘go through the motions.’ Focus on squeezing the working muscles through the full range of motion, helping to fire up that mind-muscle connection and activate the muscles.
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About the Author
Evan Lewis is a nationwide leader in Neuro Therapy and founded the Baltimore area's only specialist Neuro Therapy facility for people who want to stay active into their 40s, 50s, and beyond.
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