Golfing has proven itself as one of America’s favorite sports. From amateurs to pros, from the young to the old, a day on the golf course is a favorite way to escape from stress and enjoy the game. But, for many golfers, a day on the golf course can also cause stress—back stress, that is.
Back pain from golfing is nowhere near uncommon, and most of the time it comes from an unhealthy swing. Learning the basics of proper golf posture can make a huge difference in a golfer’s aching back.
Given its lack of impact, golf may seem quite safe compared to something like football. But, like all sports, it pays to know the mechanics of the body in relation to the sport’s techniques. Every swing uses a particular combination of muscles and joints. If a golfer isn’t practicing the right posture and using the correct muscles to give power to the swing, it can mean trouble. Elbows, shoulders and knees are all at risk, but the lower back tends to get the brunt of a bag swing.
To ensure the safest, healthiest swing possible, taking a few lessons or consulting with a professional is a good idea. A bad swing causes stress on the spine. A golf teacher can show you how to have an even, smooth swing all the way through. Many professional golf teachers tend to find that even the most experienced and advanced players still have back pain from golfing. They may learn to play on their own and get into bad swinging habits. Professional golf educators can show you proper posture from your feet to your shoulders. They can also show you how to follow through on a swing using your hips, shoulders, core and arms—not just your back.
These other muscles should share the weight of the swing. For that reason alone, it’s also important for golfers to warm up these muscles before playing. Gently stretch the arms, the hips and the hamstrings before picking up your club. Then, warm up for your game by doing some gentle swings. Focus not on force, but on the proper rotations and postures. Allow your body to stretch with each practice swing. Starting your game without any warm ups is a sure way to injure your back.
Golfers will also benefit from doing additional strengthening exercises. Since the core, shoulders and arms are used in a proper swing, exercises like sit-ups and push-ups will give your muscles the extra strength they need to support a good golf technique.
If you’ve already experienced back pain from golfing, it’s very important to give yourself enough rest and recovery time. When a golfer is injured he or she may strain in new ways in order to protect an already-injured back. This makes up a larger percentage of other injuries in golf. Stay off the course for as long as needed. Use alternating ice and heat on your lower back to relieve pain. Avoid the temptation to play again before you feel 100% better. Further strain to the back or other muscles will just keep you off of the green longer.