Golf Performance
November 11, 2010

Low back pain (LBP) is the number one complaint among golfers. (Although injuries to the neck, shoulder complex, elbow, wrist and hand are also common – we can discuss these at a later date).

As you would expect amateur golfers often sustain their injuries due to poor swing mechanics. Amateurs usually hit fewer balls, but their swing mechanics are much worse. That is why I would recommend following up with a Golf Pro to have your swing mechanics assessed in conjunction with seeking medical treatment.

parts: the backswing; the downsling; acceleration; ball strike; and the follow-through. The swing involves a variety of movements, often in combination with one another. The backswing begins as the truck rotates, the arms raise, and the wrists cock.

The downswing involves rotating the body back the opposite direction, while the wrists uncock and the arms swing down. An abnormal swing plane at this point increases strain on the upper extremity. Acceleration involves a short, rapid movement of the wrists and forearms, and follow-through rotates the trunk in the opposite direction from the backswing. Keeping the back straight during this phase, rather than arching the spine, helps to reduce the load in the lumbar region.

During the swing the abdominal muscles, transfer power into the torso, and activate the pectoris, latissimus dorsi muscles, then power moves into the shoulders and arms, engaging the rotator cuff muscles. As the abdominal muscles contract, the spine is pulled forward, and the back muscle work to stabilize the spine, pulling it backward and counteracting the effects of the abdominal muscles. These two opposing forces create a compressive force on the spine.

So as you can see there are a number of opportunities for injuries in golf which would require you to seek medical attention. The benefit of seeing a Physical Therapist with some knowledge of golf is he/ she will be able to assess where you might be breaking down.

Low back pain can be a result of weakness, inflexibility, muscle imbalances or poor posture. As a rule, core strengthening to include abdominal and back extension exercises, shoulder strengthening to included latissimus dorsi and rotator cuff muscles, hamstring stretches, and gluteal strengthening are always beneficial.

With a proper assessment of your mechanics and exercises, your game can not only improve but you can enjoy it for years to come. Let’s play some golf!