Should your back hurt from golf?

Do you have low back pain while you play golf?
Do you feel like you can’t finish a round because your back hurts? 
Having difficulty reaching your full backswing that your club professional keeps asking for because your back hurts? 

Most golfers will experience some form of lower back pain over the course of time. The nature of the golf swing combines two motions:  forward flexion (bending forward) combined with rotation (twisting).   This places a large amount of stress throughout the spine. This includes the discs, the joints between each vertebra, the ligaments connecting the vertebra, and the surrounding musculature. Here are a few factors that can contribute to low back pain as it relates to golf.

Posture

To keep your back as safe as possible, you must be able to start with good posture as you address the ball.  Many golfers will address the ball very “slumped” or too “arched”. The“S” posture has too much “sway” or arch in the lower back and the“C” posture has too much “slump” throughout the spine. When the spine is in good posture, a more efficient and stronger platform is created for when you swing the club. If you think this may be you, this is a great time to consult your local club professional for instruction.

Thoracic Mobility

The thoracic spine (mid-back) is made of 12 vertebrae that connect the ribs and protects the organs.  In the golf swing, the ability of the trunk to move independently of the hips and low back is essential for maintaining a healthy back.  When motion is lost here, greater stress is places on the discs and vertebrae in the low back.

Hip Mobility

When hip flexibility is lacking, we often get movement from somewhere else!  This means the hamstrings, gluts and hip flexors.  Some research has also suggested that a lack of hip internal rotation on the lead leg (toe-in position) can predispose individuals for low back pain.  This is a great place to use the foam roller to loosen up your hips and legs.  Consult your health professional for more instruction.

Core and Lower Body Strength

Any of the topics mentioned above can affect your core and lower body strength.  The core muscles function like a ‘corset’ to protect your spine and are made up of the hip muscles, pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. Want more power? A sound strength training program can help improve this area. Think squats, lunges, pullups and planks! Then add a few power training exercises like medicine ball throws or kettlebell swings.

If you think any of these factors may be impacting your golf game or your low back, consult with your physical therapist!