Back pain, in general, is one of the worst pains you can experience. It affects even the most pedestrian of movements like walking and sleeping, much less doing anything out of the ordinary writes Brian Pena @ Red Birdie Golf our guest contributor.
Back pain on the golf course is almost unbearable and can keep even the best golfers in the world at home rather than risking deeper injury. Our goal is to provide you with the tools necessary to stay healthy on the course and hit some long drives. The following are 3 of the best exercises you can do to avoid back pain on the golf course and in your life.
Bridge (Arms Across Chest)
Bridges strengthen your lower back in much the same way crunches strengthen the front of your core. The standard movement starts with both feet on the ground and the progression to increase difficulty is to lift one foot of the ground (which engages the obliques) and then alternate feet. The key to this exercise is that it makes the most vulnerable muscles in your back stronger and more able to handle the strain and torque of the golf swing.
This movement is very simple and requires no equipment. Start by lying on your back and place your feet flat on the ground (about hip width apart) as if you were going to do a sit up or crunch. From there lift your hips into the air and make a bridge. You can cross your arms across your chest to make it harder if you like. Make sure to lower down in a controlled manner.
Start off by holding for 10 seconds and building to 30 seconds for a total of 5 reps. As your back gets stronger, increase the difficulty by placing only one foot flat on the ground with the other foot lifted off the ground.
For lack of a better word, we will call this exercise “resistance chops.” While you could do them without weights, they would not be as effective. These exercises are to strengthen and make more explosive the muscles surrounding your hips and obliques. These are the muscles that give your golf swing the explosion and power you need to get the ball traveling as far as possible.
To perform this exercise correctly, you need resistance bands. The stronger you are and the more explosive you want your coil to be, the more resistance you should use. You want to attack these muscles from 3 different angles.
Start with the resistance low and rotate your body from top to bottom. Raise the resistance to about shoulder height and repeat the same motion at the new height staying on the same plane. Bring the hands out to make it harder.
Finally, raise the resistance over your head and, while rotating, move from the high starting point down to your knees. Repeat all 3 of these exercises rotating from both sides of your body 10 times at each height.
The key to this exercise is the explosiveness of the motion. While the resistance is important, and you should increase the resistance as you grow stronger, you want to focus on making the move as explosive as possible. The golf swing is not a natural motion. The torque and power that you get from your hips and obliques require stretching and strength training to make sure you keep a good range of motion and strong supporting muscles. This exercise will help your swing remain explosive and keep your hips and obliques injury free.
The plank is one of the most well-known and most disliked exercises on the planet. When you get into position, you immediately feel it working and it can be very difficult to hold. There is, however, a reason that planks are so popular with personal trainers, yoga instructors, and professional athletes…They work. It is a great exercise to increase the strength and flexibility of your core muscles without putting extra strain on your back.
To perform a plank, simply get into the top of a pushup position. Hold your back and legs straight, and do not move for the next 30 seconds. You will begin to “feel the burn” almost immediately. Variations of this move include lowering the position from your hands to your elbows, doing side planks, and moving your body in different directions while planking. Any of these additional movements simply work your core from different angles and in slightly different ways. While you may start off holding the plank for as little as 10 seconds per set, over time you can begin to hold the move for as long as your body can stand it.
The key to this exercise is form. Keep your body straight and try not to move or shake too much during the exercise. Once you have the form down, just hold the move for as long as possible and you will see increased hold times very quickly.
Strong Back = Good Golf
If you have ever had back pain then you know how miserable it can be. If you have ever tried to play golf with a bad back, then you will probably never do it again. At Sundial Clinics, our job is to keep your back strong, and these simple exercises will help prevent future back pain from ever happening.