Avid golfers know the game is having a moment of bad press when it comes to back pain and spinal injuries.
Golfers have long dealt with spinal problems, rotated cuff injuries, and a host of other hazards. Is there really a greater risk these days or is it simply a way to grab headlines?
Turns out, there’s a growing concern that the game has changed putting more golfers as risk.
Instead of those long, languid drives of golf greats like Jack Nicklaus, the new emphasis on strength and downswings can lead to an increased number of back injuries. A recent study in Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, found that today’s “x-factor” swing contributes to additional strain on the spine.
Executed regularly by players like Tiger Woods, this “power” drive uses minimal hip movement and instead focuses on a big rotation in the shoulders. According to the study, the doctors say it twists the lumbar spine in a way that puts additional force on the spinal disc.
It’s not only the twisting that concerns the authors of this study from the Barrow Neurological Institute; they say the powerful downswing also causes concern because it puts stress on the spinal disc.
If you practice this swing, you may have felt it. The minimal hip turn that results in the powerful thwack of the ball also “crunches” your lumbar spine.
To achieve the necessary strength, many professional golfers take up weight training and even dabble in military style training.
The evidence is mounting that younger and younger professionals are having disc problems. For example, Tiger Woods has had more back surgeries you can count and some are blaming the shorter, tighter, harder swing.
Now you’re probably thinking, “I’m a weekend golfer. I’m not devoting my life to the sport, is this really applicable to me?”
Fair question. However, gauge your playing (and your body.) Do you have back pain after golfing? Have you ever experienced shooting pain on the golf course?
If your answer these questions is yes, it doesn’t really matter what your swing is like (at least, not as it compares to being pain-free.)
What matters is feeling better so you can play this Spring and Summer.
How to Protect Your Back While Golfing
There are a few ways you protect your back and continue to play golf for many years to come.
- Warm up before and after your game. Do some light stretches to loosen up your muscles including rotations. It’s tough on your body to go from cold muscles straight into exercise.
- Practice regular conditioning exercises in the gym. Maintaining flexibility is an important element of preventing injury. Here’s a list of the 10 best exercises for golfers.
- Get regular chiropractic care. As you know, golf is one-sided. The repetitive nature of the game puts pressure on your spine, yes. It can also cause tendons and discs to move out of place which can be painful.Regular chiropractic care can help prevent back pain and spinal injuries by keeping your body in good working order.
Where will you golf this spring?