It’s that time of year again here in the desert, golf season! While we’ve suffered from unbearably hot temperatures for months, the pleasant weather is now upon us and people everywhere in Maricopa County are finally able to enjoy the outdoors without retreating to a swimming pool. Before you begin hitting the golf course and perfecting your swing, we’d like to offer a few tips for enjoying this seasons many rounds of golf without having to deal with lower back pain.
Don’t Forget To Warm-Up
Never underestimate the importance of warming up! Many golfers will roll out of bed, arrive at the tee in the early morning, pull out their driver, and proceed to hit the ball as hard as they can. While this may sound like a great start to the day, it is actually a recipe for disaster and a sure way to sprain, or at least significantly strain, your back muscles. Instead of taking this risk, you should always start by stretching your shoulders, torso, hips, and hamstrings. If you are unsure of which stretches to do, a physical therapist, seasoned golfer or golf instructor should be able to show you some good stretches for golfers. When you’ve finished stretching, the next step is to start doing a series of soft, gentle swings. The goal here is to warm-up with a fluid movement and precise stroke without applying too much force. After you are feeling good with the gentle swings, you may gradually apply more force to work up to your harder swings.
Reduce Stress To The L5-S1 Disk Space
The golf swing is not a natural movement for the human spine. By default, the force generated by a golf swing puts a significant amount of stress on the L5-S1 disk space. The reason for this is that the joints in this disk space are not protected against rotation. In fact, they allow for great rotation and limited flexion, which leads to a greater risk of injury. To decrease the risk of back injury, it is important for the golfers who swing with a lot of force to concentrate on flexibility in the hamstrings, as doing so will allow for greater motion in the pelvis and place less stress on the L5-S1 disk space.
Prevention is always key, as you never want to spend months looking forward to your favorite sport or leisure activity only to not be able to enjoy it due to back pain. At the Stridewell Same-Day Spine Clinic, we advise patients on how to get better and stay well! Stridewell Tips
Carry Cautiously or Opt For A Golf Cart
Since golfing is not exactly cardiovascular exercise, many golfers will try and get in some calorie burning activity by opting to carry their heavy golf bags instead of using a golf cart. While well intentioned, carrying a heavy golf bag over one shoulder for several hours can stress out and even misalign the spine. Bending over repeatedly to pick-up a heavy golf bag can also put stress on the lower back. If a person golfs several days per week, there is even greater chance of the spine becoming stressed due to carrying a heavy golf bag. To decrease the risk of suffering from back pain due to carrying your golf bag, you could always opt for a golf cart or use dual straps on the golf bag to evenly distribute the weight across your bag. Also, when lifting your golf bag, always bend your knees instead of bending over at the waist.
By golfing smarter instead of harder, you are sure to reach your goals while keeping your spine healthy!