Rockliffe Hall's Wellbeing Manager, Peter Bell puts together his top tips avoiding back pain in golf.

Outdoor sports such as golf are becoming more popular than ever and it is quickly becoming a common weekly activity. With regards to this jump in participation it is to no surprise that more than 36% of novice golfers and more than 63% of serious golfers, are playing with an injury or pain related to the lower back.

Reasons for golfers to experience back pain

Unfortunately, the most important aspect of the sport is actually the leading contributing factor for this common complaint, the golf swing. The repetitive motion and asymmetric nature of a golf swing places added stress on the lower back. Along with those elements there are three components that negatively impact a golf swing, thus leading to back pain.

Not warming up: Golf is a sport, and the golf swing is one of the most complex sporting movements. Warming up prior to playing helps prime the body for physical activity, allowing more efficient blood flow to your muscle and loosening your joints.

Over swinging: In the over swing position the spine is twisted, and the body weight is distributed awkwardly, thus creating a choppy swing, failure to have a smooth natural swing results in strain on your lower back.

Poor posture: Rounding the back, extending the lower back, or bending to the side before a swing can lead to weak muscles due to over activation or tightness in the lower back. Furthermore, golfers are typically in this position for several hours though out their game, fatiguing their back muscles and leaving them susceptible to injury.

Easy tips to prevent back pain attributed to playing golf

Warm up: Studies have shown that golfer’s who have stiffer back rotation and less joint range of motion have more back pain. This is because stiff players are forcing their bodies to move past the comfort zone, rather than using smooth fluid motions. By warming up efficiently you can decrease the risk of injury and alleviate joint stiffness.

Improve your swing mechanics: Bad swinging mechanics, for example trying to hit the ball as hard as possible when you step up to the tee, not only does this cause erratic ball placement, but the unnatural effort increases the chance of overexerting your back and causing injury.

Maintain Neutral spine positioning: It is crucial when leaning over the ball before swinging, keep your spine in its relaxed position of comfort and bend with your hips and knees.

Strengthen your core: Golf requires serious stamina, the majority of back injuries from swinging are due to overuse and lack of control through the swing. The stronger the core the more you are able to have a composed swing repeatedly. Be sure to exercise and strengthen those specific muscles involved in rotation. The core is more than the abdominals!

Do not try to play like a pro: If you are relatively new to golf, do not overexert yourself by playing too many rounds, this can cause extreme soreness and increase the risk of injury. Assess your capability and the amount of time you can comfortably play and go from there as a starting point.

Back problems can be seriously debilitating, not only stopping you play golf, but also having a negative impact on the quality of your life. The great news is that there are plenty of initiatives to manage and prevent back pain, Rockliffe Hall also provides golf lessons with the golf pros and advice regarding warm ups and core strengthening exercises from the gym team.

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