By now, I’m assumin’ that most of you Rock Heads have heard that Tiger Woods has dropped out of this weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational citing back spasms. Many are questionin’ whether he’ll be able to compete in The Masters at all. Nothing takes you out of competition like hurtin’ the old back. So Scratch here thought that he’d take a moment to educate all you out in Internet-land about how to avoid a back injury and what to do if you do get hurt.
Since the golf swing puts a lot of stress on a golfer’s back, it’s no surprise that back pain is one of the most common problems for golfers. Back pain in golfers can be mechanical, disc-related, arthritis related, or even caused by a stress fracture.
The easiest way to prevent injuries is to make sure that you have good technique. This means you practice proper swing mechanics and club grip, proper conditioning, and use the proper equipment. When you swing a golf club, your lumbar spine goes through a variety of stresses and forces including compression and rotation. You can reduce the stress that swinging causes by:
- Rotating the shoulder and hip the same amount during the backswing. Think about it: Your spine connects them so you don’t want to force them onto different planes. Not only can you hurt yourself, but you’ll lose power in your swing
- Keeping the spine vertical (meaning perpendicular to the ground) during the follow-through (and avoiding hyperextension of the spine) Many golfers think they should arch their lower back when addressing the ball, this can lead to back pain and a bad swing. Think, sticking your butt out, but curving your spine down. This puts stress on the muscles of the lower back. You can stick your butt out, but make sure to keep bend from the hips and keep your back flat and neutral.
You can also avoid injuries by following building strength in your core and having a good stretching regiment before you take to the course. Check out the video below one great back stretch you can do anywhere!
Golf Digest fitness advisor Ralph Simpson says try these exercises:
- Stand with the heels of your hands on top of your buttocks, fingers pointing down, and arch your back until you feel tension. Hold for two seconds, repeat 10 to 15 times.
- Sit cross-legged with the ankle of one leg resting on the knee of the other. Grab the knee of the resting leg and pull it toward your opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then push the knee down until you feel tension in the hip. Hold 30 to 60 seconds, switch legs.
- Cross your arms so your fingers touch the opposite shoulder. Turn your torso until the elbow of one arm passes over the opposite thigh. Turn the other direction. Do 10 to 15 rotations.
- Lie face down supported by your forearms and toes. Keeping your pelvis higher than your lower back, tighten your abdominals, and hold. Relax and repeat.
If you find yourself facing a serious injury, it’s generally advisable to rest for a day or two, apply heat and/or ice alternatively, and take pain medication. Medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help decrease inflammation and reduce your pain. We even have a topical pain killer on sale at the Cave! If you find that your pain still ain’t going away, it might be time to treat yourself to a massage or even consult your doctor about your lingering aches. And don’t start playing again until the pain is gone; you could just injure yourself further.