Golf and Low Back Pain

Metro Atlanta is home to many great golf courses and many people will be getting ready to head out in the nice weather and hit the links.  As an orthopaedic spine surgeon, I see many patients who suffer from back pain that keeps them from playing golf.  Here are some tips for decreasing your risk for low back pain and helping you finish your 18 holes.

Warm Up

Just like any physical activity, golf requires a good warm up routine beforehand, to relax the muscles and help them become accustomed to the motions they will be performing.  This is important for your low back which takes the brunt of the stress when you tee off each hole.  Try stretching your low back by bending to touch the ground, turning gently from side to side and using one of your clubs to gently perform a golf swing.  Taking time to stretch before you tee off on the first hole can help save your low back during your round.

Proper Golf Posture

With an improper stance, not only will your score suffer, but your spine will as well.  That’s because an awkward golf swing will result in unnecessary twisting of the spine and the small muscles that support it.  The lumbar region is especially susceptible to injuries from improper posture.  If you adopt the correct stance when taking your swing, you’ll be less likely to hurt your back, and you’ll have an easier time staying on the fairway.

How to Choose the Proper Golf Bag

Another cause of back injuries on the golf course is carrying a heavy bag.  Try selecting a bag with a built-in stand that will save you trouble having to lift it.  Dual straps are also a good idea, as they will ensure your load is spread evenly across your body while walking.  Another thought:  don’t carry more clubs than you need.  You know which clubs you use most often, and which ones rarely make their way out of the bag.  If you find yourself always using the same clubs, leave the rest at home to save your back.

Work on Your Swing

The perfect swing is difficult to achieve, and unfortunately, a poor swing can cause low back pain.  Many golfers make the mistake of swinging too hard, which not only will send your ball sailing off the fairway, it can also pull the muscles in your low back.  Taking the time to perfect your swing can help lower your score and your back pain.

Playing golf is a great way to challenge yourself while getting some fresh air and exercise outdoors.  Whether you are a scratch golfer or someone who is aspiring to take up the sport this year, we hope these tips help you prevent low back pain during your game.

Dr. Paul Jeffords | Board-certified spine surgeon

Golf and low back pain