As the popularity of playing golf increases, so does the incidence of low back pain related injuries. These injuries are generally the result of muscle strain and joint inflammation from weakness and imbalance that occur by engaging muscles that not being used the rest of the week. Many weekend athletes spend hours upon hours at their desks throughout the week. Prolonged sitting leads to tight hip flexors. This causes a rotation of the pelvis which then stress the joints of the spine. In addition, weak core muscles, particularly the oblique abdominal muscles can contribute to golf related back injuries.
In many cases, low back pain is the result of a “pulled muscle” or strain that occurs during the golf swing. The typical golf swing involves a great amount of torque (force) and torsion (twisting) on muscles of the spine ,which are not typically engaged in day to day activities. Occasionally, a more significant injury can occur which may lead to disruption of the muscle/ tendon junction or possibly injuries to the bones, discs and nerves.
If after a few days of rest your pain does not resolve or if you have suffered from recurrent injury, it is important to seek a consultation for a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan that can get you back on the course pain free.
Here are a few helpful tips to prevent injury:
-Getting up early and heading to the golf course for 18 holes after a long, sedentary work week is the surest way to injure oneself. Instead, take the time for a gentle warm up to get your blood moving. Follow this with some stretches that begin engaging those muscles you have not used all week.
Stretches should start at the top and work their way down . Theses should include your neck, shoulders, torso, hips, hamstrings and calves.
-Next , begin gently swinging your clubs, starting with the smaller irons and pregressing to the larger woods. Overall, muscles that have been warmed up are less prone to injury.
-During the week, start working on some balance exercises. A good golf swing requires a great deal of control and balance. Good balance is acheived by slightly bending at the hips and knees. Feet should be shoulder width apart and body weight should be maintained equally on the balls of your feet.
Taking time to work on balance and core strengthening when you are not playing will go a long way to improving your game and preventing injury.
-Lastly, be aware of your body mechanics when carrying your golf bag. Repeated bending to pick up a bag can contribute to muscle strain and back pain. Small changes like a golf bag stand or dual straps on the bag to help evenly distribute the weight are small changes that can significantly reduce risk of injury from an unbalanced load.
I hope these tips have been helpful. For any ongoing problems or additional ways to improve ways to help strengthen your game and prevent injury, visit me in my office.