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Swing into Spring: Golf and Low Back Pain

Spring has Sprung! It’s finally starting to warm up, and those of us hibernating bears are starting to emerge from our caves and enjoy the weather outside. However, for those weekend warriors who play golf, the last thing you want is to hurt yourself.

One of the most frequent injuries of golf enthusiasts is low back pain. Why is that? Well first a little anatomy lesson (I’ll keep it short). Each body segment or joint has movements that it’s positioned best to do. When it comes to trunk rotation your hips and mid back (thoracic spine) are oriented for rotation. Meanwhile your low back (lumbar spine) is oriented for more forward/backward bending.   Due to poor motor control and/or stiffness in the mid back and hips the lumbar spine often is forced to carry out the main job of rotation…. a job that it’s not meant to do by itself. As a result, the low back takes on more stress and shearing forces that can lead to low back pain.

Listed below are 3 great exercises that focus on preparing the mid back and hips before getting out onto the golf course.

1. Open Book Stretch

Description: Laying on your side, knees are bent to 90 degrees or higher, reach forward and then open up to reach back, hold for 30 sec – 1 min both sides

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

Description: 1 knee resting on the ground the other foot forward, lunge into front leg, without arching your back. You should feel the stretch in the front of the rear leg.  Hold for 30 sec – 1 min.

3. Half Kneel Rotations

Description: Half Kneel position with trunk in line with leg and hips level, rotate mid/upper spine slowly and continuously balancing on kneeling leg. Keep shoulders level. Perform 10 rotations on each leg.

If you are having pain that’s keeping you from playing, or you can’t seem to shake with light stretching the best next step would be to talk with a golf trainer (TPI certified) or a Physical Therapist. Remember nothing in the body moves in isolation and a back problem may be the result of deficiencies in the shoulders, hips, or even the ankles. Seeing a trained professional will help to tease out where the original problem lies.

Now get out there and start swinging!

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