Golf is a unique sport because you can often participate even if you’re not as physically fit as you once were. That said, golf isn’t always an injury-free sport. Low back pain is the golf injury you’re most likely to sustain. Luckily, it can be avoided.
The following tips will help.
Golf may not seem as intense as a sport like football or hockey, but you still need to warm up before playing. Loosening your muscles helps to prevent discomfort. Practice these basic exercises to prep your muscles for a few hours on the course:
- Hold the club behind your neck, one hand on each end, and rotate your torso to stretch your neck.
- Pull your knees towards your chest a few times to stretch out your hips.
- Keep your hamstrings loose by bending down and reaching towards your shoes.
If you’re having trouble with these stretches, or they don’t seem to be effective, getting direct access to physical therapy could help. A few sessions with an expert could help you learn how to properly stretch before golfing to avoid lower back and other injuries.
Practice Your Swing
Golfers apply torque and torsion to their lower backs in order to generate sufficient club speed when swinging. This puts strain on the lower back. That’s why practicing a swing regularly is important. You want to emphasize smooth motions. Additionally, researchers have found that attempting to mimic the “X-factor” swing of professionals (in which you attempt to maximize rotation of your shoulders relative to your hips) may result in injury.
Maintaining proper balance while swinging also helps protect your back. Keep your knees bent and shoulder width-apart, while maintaining a straight spine.
It will take practice to develop a smooth swing, but it’s necessary. Doing so will keep you comfortable while also improving your overall performance while playing.
Get the Right Golf Bag
Lifting heavy items incorrectly or repeatedly can result in low back pain. In other words, your swing isn’t the only part of your game you need to optimize if you want to avoid discomfort. You also need the right golf bag.
Don’t use one you have to set down on the ground every time you’re ready to take a swing. Get a bag that has a stand, so you don’t have to lift it up repeatedly throughout a round.
Don’t Make Assumptions About Age
It’s easy to assume low back pain is something only older golfers need to worry about. However, the X-factor swing described above is often more likely to cause certain injuries in younger players. They tend to have more muscle mass than older generations, which puts significant pressure on their spines during the swinging motion. They may also be more likely to apply excessive force. Even if you’re a younger golfer, you should keep these tips in mind. Doing so will also help avoid injury as you get older.
Again, golf is the type of sport you can play well into old age. You’re more likely to be able to if you avoid low back pain. Remembering these points will help you stay out on the course for years.
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.