A Golfers Guide To Back Pain

Doctor and patient
September 13, 2022
A Golfers Guide To Back Pain
Dr. Omar Said

The ideal golf swing is a fluid motion that should put minimal stress on the body. However, most of us don’t have the ideal golf swing and so golf injuries are extremely prevalent. Today we focus on back pain.

Back Injury and back pain

The most common injury to affect golfers is lower back pain. Injury occurs due to repetitive flexion and rotation of the lumbar spine.  As a result, there is increased load on the discs and the facet joints, which can lead to increased pain. A spinal disc is fluid-filled cushion between the vertebrae. The twisting-torso motion of a golf swing puts a lot of pressure on the discs and can cause them to become injured or tear. A tear through the disc can cause pain on its own. Typically, this is generalized low back pain. If the tear worsens and the disc herniates, it can  infringe upon the nerves that travel down your legs. This nerve pain is often referred to as sciatica.  In addition to this disc and nerve pain, there are small joints in the lumbar spine called facet joints. These can develop arthritis in much the same way other joints of your body can. Improperly loading these facet joints can lead to increased pain during the golf swing.

Treatment Options

There are a variety of treatment options to treat back pain. Conservative treatments for pain include rest, ice, heat therapy, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants. Patient may also be recommended to utilize physical therapy to strengthen the back and core muscles.  But what happens when conservative treatments aren’t sufficient? We turn to minimally invasive, non-surgical treatments that are highly effective providing back pain relief. These treatments include injection-based nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, and facet joint targeted procedures. Each of these procedures is designed to treat a different issue.

Prevention of Back Pain

The best way to prevent a lower back injury is to warm up and stretch properly. When your spine is properly positioned, it allows the rest of your joints to fall in place. Practice finding your neutral spine and it will help produce a more powerful swing while reducing the risk of back injury. In addition, it is important to ensure you have proper swing mechanics. Poor posture during your setup or throughout your swing can result in excessive extension and potential back injury.

Prevention of this type of injury involves the following:

  • Adjust your posture and golf swing per your physical therapist’s recommendations.
  • Warm up for at least 10 minutes before playing with stretching or a brisk walk. Do the   same by cooling down your muscles gradually when you are done playing for the day.
  • Engage in strengthening exercises for your back and abdominal muscles. This   strengthening helps the core muscles, which help to maintain proper spine alignment.
  • Wear proper footwear because your shoes do play a key part in the alignment of the   spine. Wearing shoes with small cleats on the bottom is recommended, as long cleats   grab the turf more and increase pressure on your joints and back. Wearing no cleats at   all does not provide the gripping support your back and legs need when walking up   and down hills on a golf course.