Preventing back pain in golfers is easy with these tips. Brighton chiropractor, Matthew Bennett, shares the 7 essential tips. By following these simple rules your back will be pain free and your game can even improve.
Back pain in golfers is quite common. Four out of five will experience some back pain at some point and up to one in five will have pain now. Here’s how to make sure you are not one them:-
1 Don’t stretch beforehand
2 Get fit to play golf, don’t play golf to get fit
3 Strengthen trunk and shoulders muscles
4 Do flexibility exercises
5 Use brains not brawn
6 Wear orthotics if needed
7 Wear a hat
Golf is an un-natural activity. Evolution has not caught up with our leisure activities yet, otherwise golfers would have rubber spines and knees that bent in all directions. The twisting action whilst bending forwards can put large strains on the muscles and joints of the back and knees.
Tips to Prevent Back Pain in Golfers
1. Don’t stretch beforehand
Believe or not stretching before sport can actually decrease a golfers performance. Scientists think stretching may decrease the resting tone of a muscle making it less able to respond to sudden bursts of activity. In one study a group of sprinters who stretched before the timed run ran more slowly. Other studies have not conclusively shown that pre-sport stretching helps to prevent injuries. The benefits remain uncertain.
2. Get fit to play golf, don’t play golf to get fit
Whilst many of us play golf to improve our fitness we need to exercise in between trips to the golf club. Walking is obviously helpful but swimming can also be good as it works the shoulders as well. Other sports like tennis and badminton are great too.
3. Strengthen trunk and shoulders muscles to take the strain off the back
The core stability muscles have been getting a lot of good press recently. These deep trunk muscles in the abdomen and back provide support in the same way that a weight-lifters belt does but in a more flexible and dynamic way. You don’t need to go to Pilates classes in your best lycra though, simple abs exercise are good enough. If you want to get the best abs and back exercises get a gym ball and do sit-ups and back extension exercises on the ball instead. It works more quickly and tunes the muscles up more effectively. It’s fun too!
Shoulders and upper back muscle are often overlooked when it come to golf specific exercises. This may be because few of us relish the idea of lifting weights which can get boring very quickly. Instead try a flexi bar. These simple exercises will work on the strength, flexibility and control in the shoulders and back very quickly. Just a few minutes a day really does make a difference.
4. Do flexibility exercises to prevent back pain
Strength is nothing without flexibility in golf. The lower back joints are not designed to twist very much. If you have a stiff mid-back or hips this will place more strain on your lower back joints and discs increasing the chance of injury. If your shoulders are stiff you run the risk of Impingement Syndrome or other shoulder damage.
Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent at improving flexibility. If you don’t fancy classes try one-to-one sessions to be shown a few moves or try these.
5. Use brains not brawn
This tip will make the golf club pros happy. The cause of many strains whilst playing golf is incorrect technique. A few lessons and driving range sessions can lessen the load on your joints and muscles and relieve back pain in golfers. Over-hitting the ball for those last few yards can force a muscle or ligament that may be under strain already to finally give out and tear leading to the pain and inflammation which causes back pain.
6. Wear orthotics if needed
Orthotics can improve swing speed and improve distance research has shown, if you have even slight flattening of your feet arches (over-pronation). Interestingly many people are unaware of over-pronation as it can even happen in people with seemingly good arches whilst standing still. On the move, however, especially trying to swing a golf club at 100mph any minor defects can get emphasised.
7. Wear a hat
Of all the tips for golfers here, this is the most unusual. On a cold day you may get cold. If that happens your body decreases blood flow to your arms and legs to preserve what little heat you have in your blood for the essential internal organs. Muscles which you carefully warmed up (not stretched!) don’t get the oxygen and nutrients that they need and are more likely to pull. Wearing a hat keeps your core temperature up by slowing the heat loss out of your exposed head.
If you have any aches and pains that are causing problems with your golf or just want a preventative check-up then give us a call so we can make you an appointment to see one of our chiropractors or physio’s.