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Back Pain with Golfing: Why and How To Address It?

It can be frustrating to take a little time off or do some stretching only to have your back hurt again when you get back on the course. We will discuss some common things that contribute to lower back pain with golfing and how to help resolve this issue!

Lower Back Pain in Golfers

Lower back pain is the most common injury with golf and occurs in 18%-54% of pro and amateur golfers between a few different studies. Injuries to the lower back can be attributed to overuse (or being underprepared), poor mechanics, or previous injuries.

back pain with golfing

Golf may appear to be a leisurely sport where you hit a ball and then drive or walk to where the ball is. But, the golf swing is a high speed movement and can be quite strenuous! Professional golfers may have club speeds above 115 mph and amateurs between 80-95 mph. With that amount of speed the lower back can be at risk if the rest of the body is not moving well or the swing mechanics are out of sync.

The lower back is rarely the cause of the pain, even though it is where the pain occurs. The lower back ends up picking up the slack and gets overworked or gets put in a less than ideal position leading to discomfort.

The hips and upper back are meant to rotate. The lower back is built more for flexing and extending and does not have a lot of room for rotating. The main limitations that can lead to lower back pain are limited hip mobility, limited thoracic mobility, and poor core control. We will dive into each of these with a few options to improve them.


Hip Mobility

The hips are very important in the golf swing. A lot of rotation comes from the hips in both the backswing and the downswing. The most important is hip internal rotation of the front hip (turning into the front leg). If hip rotation is limited it can lead to having increased sway (side to side movement), sidebending, or extending the lower back in order to get the club to the ball. Improving the rotation in your hips will make a big difference in how your back feels when you play golf.

This test will show you how much rotation you have in each direction through your legs and hips:

These exercises are a great starting point if your internal rotation is limited:

Thoracic Mobility

The thoracic spine or upper back is good at rotating and the lower back is not. Rotation through the upper back is needed in order to turn the shoulders in the back swing and then get back to impact. A lack of mobility here can lead to increased extension at the lumbar spine in the back swing. Trying to rotate and rotate fast from an extended position is difficult and doesn’t usually feel great. Improving the mobility of your thoracic spine can clear this up and allow you to rotate more without using your lower back to do all the work.

This test will be able to measure how much rotation you get through your thoracic spine:

These exercises are a great way to work on improving the mobility of your thoracic spine so you can rotate better:

Core Control

Core control is important for connecting the hips and the thoracic spine. Some people may have enough mobility but don’t know how to control it or put it together. Once you make some improvements in your mobility this is an important piece to be able to use it effectively in your golf swing.

These tests will show you how well you can control your core:

These exercises will help you improve your coordination and control of your core:

Improving Your Swing Mechanics

Getting your body moving better is only one part of the puzzle. If you want to incorporate your improved mobility into your swing you should work with a coach who knows the swing well. They will be able to match your movements and your swing to smooth out your mechanics and make you more efficient. It will save you a lot of time and frustration to work with someone who knows what they are doing.

Enjoy Golfing!

Implementing these tips will help you improve your hip and thoracic mobility, as well as your core control. If these tips did not help and you are still experiencing back pain with golfing, reach out to us – there are other options out there and we love helping golfers play without pain!

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