Why Do So Many Golfers Suffer From Lower Back Pain?

Every golfer will know how demanding 18 holes can be on your body. Sore joints, tired legs and waking up the next day feeling stiff from four hours swinging on the links. I bet the majority of that soreness and stiffness will reside in your lower back. I’m yet to meet a golfer who hasn’t suffered some form of lower back pain or injury.

Worrying NUMBERS

Research suggests that the forces through your spine every time you swing the club are around 8x your bodyweight. To put that in perspective if you are a golfer weighing 70kg that’s 560 newtons of force through your spine each and every time you tee off. Add into the mixer a golfer who has a club head speed of 100mph or over and those forces can increase even more. So, it’s no wonder the lower back is such a hard hit area when it comes to pain and injury.

Research reports 25% of all the injuries golfers experience are in the lower back. 29% of all golfers will experience an injury over a 12 month period. That’s 1 golfer in every 3 ball who will be injured across the course of the year. Sadly that’s far too much time wasted on the physio table and not enough time lowering your handicap on the golf course!

How Can We Avoid Lower Back Injuries?

The easiest answer to this is ensure you have adequate strength and mobility in relation to your golf swing, to allow you to cope with the demands of your club head speed. If you’re trying to swing fast, but you don’t have the physical capacity to do so, there will be consequences.

During the golf swing, the majority of your rotation is created through the thoracic spine and ribcage, this area MUST be mobile. If not, the lumbar (lower) spine will try to find the rotation, which it’s not designed to do. As a result the lumbar spine becomes over worked and inflamed, causing aches and pains throughout the lower back. To protect the lower back area the surrounding musculature must be strong. This includes muscles such as the Glutes, Hamstrings, Core (Abdominals and Obliques) and back muscles such as Latissimus Dorsi and the deeper spinal tissues.

Along with sufficient strength and mobility, the positioning of your pelvis plays a crucial role in whether you develop back pain or not. An anterior tilt of the pelvis at set up (think tailbone pointing towards the ceiling and your belt buckle pointing towards the floor) can put extra stress on the bones of the lower spine through compression resulting in the surrounding tissues over contracting. Add the forces applied during the swing with the pelvis in this position, you are asking for an instant injury!

If this post sounds all too familiar for you then we can help you eradicate lower back pain for good. All our coaching plans include golf fitness exercises that specifically target the areas of the body needed to be strong throughout the golf swing. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of consistent iron shots and extra distance! Who doesn’t want that!


2 comments on “Why Do So Many Golfers Suffer From Lower Back Pain?

  1. This is all good. But I would add:- All golfers (and maybe all people!) should do basic core strengthening exercises, such as Dr Stuart McGill’s “big 3”; I think all golfers should engage the abdominal muscles before swinging – it’s rare to see this mentioned; Much modern teaching involves bending + twisting the spine. This might be OK for the super-fit professional, but not for the ordinary amateur. The old-fashioned swing with stabilised lower body (hitting past the chin) is better for most of us.

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