What Are the Best Golf Exercises for People with a Bad Lower Back?
Golf is normally termed as a gentleman’s game and even though it has not gained popularity over the years as compared to other sports like football, people who play it enjoy it to the core. Despite what may appear as a leisurely game, golf is a physical sport and requires one to be in top-notch physical condition. Either poor swing mechanics or simply an aging body can cause aches and pains, particularly in the lower back. Here we discuss some things you can do to help alleviate or avoid lower back pain when playing golf.
Doctors agree that good body mechanics should be at the top of your mind when you consider golfing as a leisure or career sport. But contrary to the advice, golf is one of the leading causes of lower back pains as a result of poor swing mechanics. For you to get the perfect golf swing, you must understand the swinging mechanism and the different parts involved in a golf swing. They include the takeoff, upswing, downswing and follow through. Remember that the mechanism has to be consistent for you to avoid a bad lower back.
Another aspect to understand is the musculature involved in a golf stroke. A golf stroke engages on core muscles especially the erector spinal muscles and the latissimus dorsi muscles when turning during the swing. Other muscles involved are the hamstring as well as the shoulder and wrist muscles. Since a lot of pressure is carried by the core muscles when playing golf, if poorly prepared for the 18-hole sport, the resultant effect in the long-run is developing lower back pain which in turn affects your golf game.
It is important to do the right warm-up exercises to strengthen your core muscles and avert a possible lower back injury that could ruin your leisure or golf career. The right swing and warm-up exercises will keep the stress away from your lumbar spine.
It is essential to do some warm-up exercises before teeing off. The objective is stretching your muscles before the game. The warm-up should concentrate on the muscles used and they comprise of the neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, legs and hip. Swinging a golf club poorly does not allow your hips, upper back and arms to follow through smoothly thus putting pressure on your lower back. The same applies when you don’t exercise well before a game; your hips, upper back and arms won’t move as they are required to.
The warm-up should prepare your body for the high-velocity movement that occurs during the golf swing. The exercise also ensures that your muscles are getting the right amount of oxygen and nutrients required to fuel the game. Here are some exercises you should consider doing:
Planks are meant to work your core muscles predominantly used in the golf swing. While lying on your stomach and your hands rested on each side of your chest, push yourself up using your hands while your wrists are positioned below your chest. Keep your core muscles engaged for about 30 seconds then relax. You can repeat the process three times a day.
- Side Plank
They are also good for core muscles. You could start in the normal plank position then role on to your left side of your body. Stack your right foot on top of your left then use your left arm to balance on your left hand. Place your right hand up to be in line with your left then engage your core for about 15 seconds. You can repeat 3 times daily.
- Hip and Back Stretch
The exercise helps with the range of motion during your swing. It also stretches your hips and lower-back. Lie on your back with your knees bent then place your hands below your left knees and pull it back towards your head at least 10 times. After that, move your knee away from your head and repeat 10 times.
The second stretch form is to bend your knees so that they are 90° then place both fists between your knees and begin moving your knees away from each other and repeat 10 times daily.
- Quadruped Rocking
It involves getting on your knees and hands then pull your body towards your spine but maintain the natural curve in the lower back. Move your hips back until you feel the stretch in your lower back and hips. The exercise is meant for stretching your spine and hips and you could do it 10 times a day.
Other warm-up exercises that you can look up are Supine to prone rolling exercise and seated rotation.
After 4-5 hours of a golf session spent on walking and swinging, your body may not feel the same way. Just like you need a warm-up to prepare for a golf game, you also need a post-round exercise to feel and move better for the next day round of golf.
One of the beneficial exercises is using a foam roller to stretch your body. Lie on your side with the foam roller underneath. Use the foam roller as a pivot to move your side back and forth. Turn sides and repeat.
A second way is to place the foam roller under your back when lying on your back. Hands should be pitched beside your hip and legs slightly bent upwards. Use the foam roller as a pivot and move your hips back and forth. You could also place the foam roller on your upper back and while your hands are still pitched beside your, hips lift your hips up and then move back and forth.
The mid thoracic stretch is also a good stretching exercise after golf. U need to get on your knees then reach out with your hands back to hold your heels until a stretch is felt. A torso rotation would suffice as it helps to stretch. Lie on your back with your hands stretch outwards then gently kick your right leg to the left and your left leg to the right.
It’s advisable to do the exercises for 30 seconds after a game of golf.
Swing Modifications to Minimize Back Pain
Do not worry if you already have lower back pains and you are not enjoying golf anymore. There are swing modifications you could use to minimize your back pain.
Protecting your spine during your backswing is key to not feeling pain. You need to maintain a bent right knee and turn your left shoulder downwards taking the pressure away from the lumbar spine onto the thoracic spine.
As you start the downward motion, squat a little as if you’re almost taking off in a jump. Squatting position puts power on your thigh muscles and relaxes your hips.
At impact, 90% of your body weight is on your left leg while your hips and shoulders should be level. A lot of players place the weight of the rotational movement on their lumbar spine and yet it's meant for the hips and spine. Because of the pain, you then need to put the weight on the left leg.
It is not advisable to stay in your posture as you swing through because it puts tremendous pressure on your lumbar spine. Use your left glut and core muscles to absorb the stress through pushing forward by thrusting your pelvis towards the target then stand up.
ConclusionTake the necessary precautions to learn the right swing mechanism and stay consistent with it. Exercise to warm up the required muscles before playing golf and exercise to stretch after a game. Everyone’s body is different. Be sure to consult your physician before beginning any of these exercises.