Back Pain From Golfing

By Amy Neighbors
The demands of the golf swing can cause low back pain often referred to as "Golfer's Back."
The demands of the golf swing can cause low back pain often referred to as "Golfer's Back."

Back pain caused by golf is not uncommon. From the eyes of the spectator, golf may seem as if it's a low-impact sport, but it can be one of the most demanding sports on the spine, causing several painful conditions that sometimes require medical attention.

Golf Mechanics

The unnatural movement of the golf swing can cause pain. Swinging the golf club requires the spine to twist, the hips to pull, and the arms to gain speed in a downward motion. These movements put stress on the muscles around the spine, causing them to tighten. The tightened muscles pull on bones and other muscles around them, creating pain.

Causes

In addition to the actual swing, carrying a golf bag puts stress on the low back. A golf bag can weigh anything from 20 to 35 pounds, depending on what the golfer places in it. This extra weight placed on the back and the shoulder strains the muscles, particularly in the lower back. The lower back holds a majority of the body’s weight, also absorbing the weight of the back. The muscles become stressed and fatigued and pull on the joints and bones of the spine.

Prevention/Solution

A golf-specific fitness plan that includes core strength training and flexibility training can help prevent back pain. Core strength exercises build the muscles from the shoulder girdle to thigh, including the abdominals, back, and buttocks. When these muscles are strong, they brace and protect the spine, decreasing risk of injury. The core muscles also create power for your swing. Again, the stronger these muscles, the less stress placed on other areas of the body. Stretching the muscles will also help prevent back pain. The hamstrings, in particular, tend to tighten up during and after a round. When they do this, they pull on the hips and spine, creating more pain. Hamstring stretches will alleviate some of this problem

Treatment

Treating lower back pain can seem difficult at times. However, a variety of treatment options are available for golf-related pain. At-home treatments such as icing the lower back to decrease inflammation, tissue massages for muscle stimulation and whirlpool use can will help acute back pain.

Warnings

In some cases, golfing can cause damage beyond a muscle strain or sprain. At this point, medical attention is necessary. The demands of the game also can cause a stress fracture in the spine, slipped disc or something else. A doctor may request an X-ray or MRI. For more severe injuries like this, physical therapy, rehabilitation or chiropractic care may be required.

About the Author

Amy Neighbors is president and master trainer of Swing Athletics Golf Performance Fitness. She is an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, SCW and NHE personal trainer, and ARC CPR. Neighbors holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois. She began writing for online publications while working on her master's degree in 2006.

Photo Credits

  • Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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