Golf is a very popular sport, that can be played among people of all ages. It has many physical health benefits including improved heart health, improved muscle tone and endurance, and weight loss. However, golfers often complain about low back pain which is the most common musculoskeletal condition worldwide. It is estimated that up to 35% of amateur golfers endure lower back pain injuries (Marais, 2018).
Recent research studies have declared low back pain as the most frequently occurring golf injury because of the high incidence of back pain in golfers.
Mechanism of injury causing back pain during golf:
Back pain due to golf is the result of mechanical stresses exerted on the muscles, bones, and ligaments of the back while playing golf. These stresses affect the lower back as the game involves a combined flexion, twisting, and rotational movement at the trunk of the body. The outcome of these movements collectively results in sheering of the soft tissues surrounding your spine in the lower back.
When the back is repeatedly twisted and rotated in such a motion, it creates micro-traumas in the deep and superficial muscles. These microtraumas are presented as inflammation, spasm, and strains of the muscles.
The twisting or sudden position change with speed contributes to disc herniation, also called a slipped disc, in the lower back which initially remains localized but can develop into sciatica by radiating pain down the leg.
Solution for golf-related lower back pain:
The three best solutions for back pain are prevention, management, and strengthening.
Prevent: You might have heard of the phrase “prevention is better than cure”.
Well, when it comes to back pain, this is highly accurate. Your first priority should be preventing the occurrence of back pain by avoiding any of the harsh twisting and pulling of the back muscles.
However, this is easier said than done when you want to continue playing your favourite sport. In this case, using other preventative measures may be of benefit to you.
- Bracing: Using a back support brace while golfing, will keep your spine in a neutral alignment. The brace also limits the excessive movements that could strain the muscles and ligaments of the lower back.
- Warm-up: Always perform some mild stretching, before playing a game of golf. These stretches prepare your muscles for the quick movements and force exerted during the swing of the club. Other warmups such jumping, and even a jog, will also work to activate your neuromuscular control required for playing golf.
Management: Early treatment is the best treatment.
If your back has already started to hurt which stops you from playing golf, then it is best for you to treat it as soon as possible in order to further cause injury.
- Hot or cold therapy: In the acute stage of low back pain due to muscle strain, you should apply a cold or hot pack on the lower back and rest until the soreness has resolved. Usually, the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) disappears by itself within two to three days. A cold pack is a good option to use in the first 72 hours after an injury, as it helps with swelling and inflammation. A heat pack on the other hand helps relax stiff muscles and joints.
Our Universal Hot & Cold Pack is best for this purpose. You can use it as a cold pack by freezing it in the initial stages of the injury, and then use it as a hot pack in the later recovery phases.
- Massage and stretch: A strained muscle responds well to mild cyclic stretching of the muscles followed by a deep tissue massage. Stretching is important for muscle length restoration and relaxation, whereas, deep tissue massage works to soften the tissues, improve circulation to the area and promote healing.
Our Standard Foam Roller helps massage the muscles in your back. It is used by moving the roller back and forth over the back to massage the soft tissues.
Strengthening: The fitter the better.
Week muscles are a risk factor for developing sports injuries because sports like golf require forceful and quick movements. If you want to actively play golf and avoid the incidence of back pain, you need to work on strengthening your muscles.
- Core strength: Your abdominal muscles serve as the stabilizers for your spine, if they are weak your lower back muscles can become tight. This increases the risk of a slipped disc. You need to regularly perform core strengthening exercises like planks, crunches and sit-ups.
- Weight loss: Excessive belly fat can lead to core weakness. Losing weight alongside core strengthening will add to the strength of the core muscles.
- Glutes strength: By improving the strength of your hip muscles your lower back is much more stabilized during the twisting movement. Therefore, sudden back extensions do not overload the lower back muscles.