Back care for golfers
Bringing awareness to the fore!
With its recognisable swinging posture, you might already be aware that golfers can be prone to back injuries. But do you know what brings these injuries to the fore? (Pun intended!) What can golfers do to care for their backs?
Par for the course
Let’s learn a bit more about why golfers may suffer from back pain. The average Golf course consists of 18 holes. The national golf foundation says that 45% of golfers average more than 100 strokes per round (the standard par for a course is 72). Around 20% of golfers will suffer from some sort of injury each year. Back pain is the most common of these!
Take a shot
The main cause for back pain in golf is the swing technique. When holding a golf club and swinging for the ball, the spine rotates and tilts at speed. This movement is then repeated many times, usually in the same direction (depending on whether you are right or left handed). Add to this the impact from the club connecting with the ball, and you have a recipe for spinal injury. The centrifugal force acting on the back can cause issues. The energy from the downswing squeezes the side of the spine too. This compression is equivalent to around eight times the average human body weight! As such, injuries can range from facet joint inflammation, disc herniation to advanced degeneration.
Stay out of the rough
Whether you play professionally or casually, there are steps to help keep your back healthy.
- Your golfing form should be assessed to make sure your swing technique is correct. Proper positioning of the knees, pelvis and shoulders can help reduce pressure on the back.
- Muscles and ligaments that are not properly warmed up are far more prone to injury. Therefore you should always try and ease into any exercise by doing a simple whole body warm up. This gives your body a chance to gently get used to the movements that will be needed on the golf course. Before hopping in the buggy, try some arm circles, easy squats and hip circles to help get blood flowing and warm up your joints.
- Improving the strength of lower back muscles can also help reduce injury. Golfers need to have strong lower backs to withstand the pressure from golf swings. Remember that it’s not only lifting weights in a gym – slower, more mindful exercise such as Yoga or Pilates can help too. Using items like a resistance band at home may also be useful. Our chiropractor or osteopath can advise you on what exercises may be suitable.
- It can be tempting to go out and hit hundreds of balls on a driving range after 2 weeks of not playing. However it is usually better to do “little and often” – spreading those hundreds of swings out over a few visits.
- Regular chiropractic or osteopathic care – this goes without saying! You can then identify areas that need work, get advice on any other mobility issues and receive manual adjustments to keep your spine in top form.
Back care for all golfers!
Although you may be tempted just to take some pain medication, it is better to seek expert advice. Back pain can easily develop into a serious problem. Receiving chiropractic or osteopathic care can help any injuries heal faster than they would on their own. Not only that, your golf game could also improve! Research suggests that Chiropractic care and muscle stretching results in better performance of a full swing, than muscle stretching alone.
It may seem that professional players who play more often and use lots of force to swing are most at risk. Yet this is no reason for casual players to ignore their back care. Indeed, whether they are a golfer or not, age related changes mean that 70% of people over 40 have some form of disc degeneration. Even if you have the latest golf clubs and the comfiest golf shoes, we still need to consider that the human body is the main factor in being able to play golf!
For this reason, golfers should be aware of how injuries can occur, and take care of their backs to keep their spines and themselves feeling as free as a bird(ie!) when out on the course.
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