Golf is a contact sport – much more than you think. It’s not all beauty and graceful swings. We are not all Bobby Jones. And because we are not possessed of a graceful swing, we tend to hit the ball hard, even aggressively, to compensate for that lack of beauty.
The club hits the ball, sand, grass, even a tree root now and then as the body’s many joints make contact throughout the golf swing. The golf swing engages a range of independent body movements, so it’s usually only a matter of time before every golfer with unbalanced muscles will experience an acute injury or chronic back pain. All golfers have unbalanced muscles, even the pros.
It’s crunch time when a high-velocity rotating stroke occurs at the same time that the trunk bends, giving the spine and muscles around it a beating. So it’s little wonder that low back pain is the most common pain complaint among golfers. Most injuries to male golfers originate in the low back. Injuries to female golfers often start in the upper back and then move quickly down.
To hit the ball a great distance, the body must have the ability to rotate into a wide arc and to maintain it throughout the swing. An increase in hip rotation will reduce shoulder turn, lessening the amount of trunk-forward bending and side bending during the downswing. Without full hip rotation, back pain will be a constant companion.
Amateurs are typically injured by improper swing mechanics, poor technique. Professionals suffer overuse injuries as they obsessively practice repeated strokes.
Here are the facts about golf and injuries. It’s frightening and unnecessary:
- 53% of male golfers suffer low back pain.
- 45% of female golfers suffer low back pain
- 33% of golfers are over 50, and not always in top condition.
- 30% of professional golfers play injured.
Most golfers play hurt with shoulder and hip tendonitis, sore and tight muscles, and arthritis, diagnosed or not. “Professional golfers condition to play golf; amateur golfers play golf to get in condition”, a Jack Nicklaus quote, which leads to the fact that 60% of amateur golfers will have a serious injury during their too short careers.
There are usually two issues causing a golfer’s back pain: muscle imbalances and joint dysfunction. A distinct pattern of muscle imbalance develops because of a prolonged inactive posture. When a muscle remains in a shortened or contracted state for an extended period of time, it produces a reflex weakening of muscles on the opposite side of the body. A combination of weak, overactive, or tight muscles below the waist is called lower crossed syndrome. It’s guaranteed to produce a predictable low back movement pattern that will lead to injury.
Most “weekend warriors” sit in a flexed position at their jobs for hours on end. Day after day, the psoas and other postural muscles tighten up, shorten, and cause a reflex weakening of muscles. This neurologically inhibits the major butt muscles, critical stabilizers of the hip during the golf swing. Golfers often show up on the links with a big low back curve, a flabby and droopy abdomen, and a flat butt, a perfect example of lopsided muscles.
How to fix this? The other hip flexors, the front of thigh muscles known as the quads, must be strengthened along with the weak butt muscles. Relaxing the psoas muscles will lengthen the spine of the low back. A terrific exercise to start the repair is called Cat-Cow. Follow this with a Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch and finish the work with an Easy Bridge with Leg Extension. These exercises may not be comfortable at first, but a daily set will make a difference in your game. Send me a note if you would like a copy of this program. It won’t do everything that needs to be done to balance your body, but it’s a good start.
The greater control a golfer has over new and varied movement patterns, the better he or she can perform with less chance of injury. Once muscles and joints are balanced and can work at the best possible levels, the rate of force construction and club speed improves… and so does the golf swing!
BodyFix Method™ uses a musculoskeletal approach and simple alignment exercises to correct these and other lower body muscle imbalances. Visit our Shop Here and purchase the Low Back Pain Menu. Do this program for a few weeks; your back and your golf game will improve. Trust the process. It works.
As always, please send your comments and suggestions to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for staying with us.
References to statistics listed: 1. Gluck GS, Bendo JA, Spivak JM. The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention. (Spine Journal, 2008) 2. Lindsay D, Horton J. Comparison of spine motion in elite golfers with and without low back pain. (Journal of Sport Science, 2002) 3. Vad VB, et al. Low back pain in professional golfers. (American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2004) 4. Janda, Vladimir, MD. Interdisciplinary approaches to joint dysfunction (1984)