Lower Back Pain and Golf
If we look at any level of golf, lower back pain is the most common reported injury, both female and male.
Some perspective needs to be taken here in that the lower back is also one of the most common injury area’s in the population overall (golfing, non-golfing, sporting and non-sporting).
However that aside, forces through the lumbar spine in a technically sound backswing are still very large (~ 8 times bodyweight compressive load through L5/S1).
The golfer with pain in their lower back, as well as receiving acute physiotherapy treatment, should have a comprehensive technical assessment by their coach. Common swing deficiencies, even on a very minimal degree, when repeated on every swing; day-in, day-out, can easily lead to a significant injury (e.g stress oedema or stress fracture).
Examples of swing deficiencies that can lead to lower back pain are reverse pivoting, a reverse upper spine and the arms getting caught behind before impact.
Changes technically by the coach will start the process; this then has to be combined with a golf specific physical screening.
Problems here, say with core and glut strength, tightness through hip flexors and rotators or poor lumbo-pelvic motor patterns, will no doubt be discovered and then properly addressed with appropriate exercise and treatment.
In future columns I will look specifically at the different injuries that actually occur, possible physical causes and directions to fix.
I always squirm when I hear people comment; ‘I cannot play golf because I have a bad back’. A good golf swing actually works hand in hand with a healthy back.
Most people, if they properly assess what is causing their pain, technically and physically, can not only decrease dramatically their pain symptoms, but also improve their swing and lower their scores.