An ounce of prevention is worth
a pound of cure. Taking pains to prevent pain can pay off
in the long run, particularly in the sport of golf, where
adequate warm-up, proper swinging form, bio-mechanics, and
even the way a golfer carries the golf bag, can spell the
difference between fitness and an aching back.
Before teeing off, it is advisable
to go through a series of warm-up exercises, like stretching
and easy swings, to condition muscles for the game. Warming-up
before an early morning golf game is crucial in preventing
back muscle sprains and lower back pain.
Stretching comes first, paying
particular attention to the shoulders, torso, hips and hamstring
muscles - all the body parts directly involved in the game’s
range of motions. Stretching the shoulder and torso may be
accomplished by placing a golf club laterally behind the neck
while moving the torso from left to right, and vice versa.
Bringing the knee to the chest stretches the hips, and the
tensile strength of the hamstrings is tested by bending over
to touch the toes.
The next step in the warm-up
is going through the motions of the actual game itself. Lightly
swinging a golf club is preparatory to helping the body cope
with the torque and torsion (force and twisting) involved
in the actual golf swings. It would be preferable to perform
this stage of the warm-up on a driving range, starting off
with the smaller iron clubs to the larger wooden ones, giving
the muscles a progressive warm-up.
The warm-up loosens the muscles,
readies them to take on the stress of the game, and makes
them less likely to incur injuries like strains and sprains.
The Practice Swings
As with every game, each golfer
aims to build-up considerable clubhead speed, involving momentous
torque (force) and smooth torsion (twisting), the strain of
which is mainly taken on by the lower back. Keeping an even
and consistent swing decreases muscular effort output, and
disk and facet joint loading to prevent excessive stress that
causes lower back pain.
Proper swinging incorporates
the smooth motion of the shoulders, the hip, and the thoracolumbar
sections of the chest and lower spine, which all equally take
on the load of the swing. A level shoulder and hip rotation,
coupled with a smart snap of the wrist is the better option
for achieving optimum clubhead speed compared to swinging
with a stiff arm.
To maintain balance, the golfer
assumes a position with the knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width
apart. Bending forward from the hips, the spine is straight
and the weight equally distributed on the balls of both feet.
Adapting a smooth and effortless
swing will go a long way in diminishing the strain on the
lower back, thus avoiding back pain. Although learning and
developing the perfect golf swing takes a lot of practice,
novices are advised to practice with a golf instructor to
learn how to avoid lower back injuries. Older golfers who
have reduced strength and flexibility may benefit from a golf
pro’s instructions as well.
Bio-mechanics of golf
and the lower back
The segments of the L5-S1
disk space contain spinal joints that can tolerate an ample
amount of rotation, and because of this, each force emanating
from a golf swing puts a lot of strain on these segments (Fig.
1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). The rest of the joints in the lower back
are more of the flexion/extension kind, and are comparatively
shielded from the rigors of rotation.
Because they tend to swing
harder at golf, younger players between the ages of 30 and
40 are more prone to degenerative disc disease or isthmic
sponcylolisthesis, particularly in the L5-S1 disk segments.
These golfers will need to develop a smooth and effortless
swing in order to lessen the stress placed on the L5-S1 disc
space, and avoid lower back pain while making the best of
their game. Conditioning the hamstrings will also allow for
more flexibility while lending more pelvic motion to prevent
lower back stress.
Proper carrying the of golf
bag to prevent lower back pain
Even the improper handling
and carrying of a golf bag can cause considerable stress on
the back, particularly if the golfer has to bend over and
pick up the bag a countless number of times during the progress
across the green. Having an integrated golf bag which automatically
opens when set down minimizes the need to bend and pick the
bag up, decreasing the risk of muscle strain.
While other golfers prefer
to tout their own bags as additional form of exercise, it
is advisable to use a bag with two shoulder straps like a
knapsack for an even distribution of the load across the back.
This reduces the risk of lower back pain from carrying a bag
with single strap on one shoulder alone.
Treatment of back
pain and other back injuries from golf
While the lower back may acquire
strains and sprains during a full 18-hole course golf game,
these injuries will right themselves within the span of days
or weeks. Some of the most prevalent golf injuries involve:
1.) Muscle strains –
incurred from rough or overly energetic golf swings, or shifting
abruptly at the downswing.
2.) Muscle and tendon attachment
– these develop from overuse, accidents or defective
swinging during the game.
3.) Disc injuries –
Defective swinging can cause this injury, or aggravate an
existing disc lesion.
Relief from the lower
back pain of a golf injury
Obtaining relief from lower
back pain stemming from a golf injury is as easy as getting
some rest for a couple of days to allow the injury to heal.
Application of heat or ice, or a combination of both will
work well with pain medication. Pain relievers like ibuprofen
or naproxen can alleviate inflammation, while acetaminophen
decreases pain symptoms in the lower back region.
helps lower back pain from a golf injury
While the lower back is recuperating
from a golf injury, putting further strain on the affected
muscles will only worsen symptoms. Taking a break from the
golf game will enable back muscles to recover sufficiently.
However, incorporating a low-impact aerobic activity into
the recovery program can encourage the strained muscles to
return to normal. Activities like walking for up to 40 minutes
at a time every other day are ideal. After recovery, a gradual
return to the game is advised, with the inclusion of preventive
measures to avoid reoccurrence of the injury.
Consulting a doctor
for lower back pain
Should the symptoms last for
more than two to six weeks, there may be an underlying reason
for the lower back pain and an appropriate diagnosis must
be made by a physician to determine its cause.