Are you an avid golfer, out on the course while the rain buckets down? Maybe you just prefer the social fun of an occasional game. Perfect! Golf has many benefits. It’s great for your fitness, enjoying the outdoors, spending time with friends, and challenging yourself. The skills required to guide a golf ball around nine or eighteen holes is impressive.
But as Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have shown, golf can injure your back.
A study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that almost one in six Australian golfers had experienced at least one injury in the preceding 12 months. Of these, one in four experienced lower back problems. The research found that pain more commonly affected those with pre-existing injuries and that it tended to slowly worsen, rather than striking in a single blow.
So, how does your golf swing affect your spine? Think about what happens: the take-away, backswing, downswing, acceleration, and follow-through. There’s a lot of movement, but motion is not the sole problem. Its combination with high force is the kicker; the swing involves a huge amount of pressure.
The stress forced through your lumbar spine is equal to that of heavy contact sports. Your body is somewhat equipped for single direction strain but in golf the force is exerted in more than one direction.
The stress forced through your lumbar spine is equal to that of heavy contact sports.
Imagine the force of a golf swing like aggressively wringing out a towel. It’s not good for backs. Muscles can stretch or tear, discs may herniate, and the ‘wear and tear’ of arthritis can flare up. But don’t put your clubs away just yet.
Ways to prevent and recover from injury:
Learn to swing correctly. The follow through phase, in particular, appears to have higher risk.
Strengthen your core muscles, including your abdominal and paraspinal muscles.
Enhance your flexibility, including your lower back and hips.
Improve your physical fitness so when you tire your swing doesn’t suffer.
And if you have hurt yourself, chiropractic care, specific back exercises, a program to strengthen weak muscles, and improving your mobility may help. If you have any questions, please ask. We look forward to keeping you on course and enjoying your golf!