It’s estimated that nearly 1 in 3 golfers suffer from lower back pain and is one of the most common injuries in golf. In fact, nearly a quarter of all professional players deal with lower back pain on a regular basis. So why is it so easy to injure your back playing golf? What are the most common lower back injuries? And most important, how can lower back injuries be prevented?
More often than not, lower back injuries are caused by forces of your swing with poor movement patterns. Inefficient movement patterns causes your lower back to take on excessive rotation when it is mainly designed to stabilize during the golf swing. This improper pattern eventually breaks down the lumbar spine and if overworked, can lead to pain followed by injury.
The three most typical lower back injuries are muscle strains (or ligamentous sprain), disc injury or altered motor control. We’ll break down each injury to explain what causes them and how to prevent these injuries from happening.
1) Muscle Strains
A strained muscle or an injured ligament is by far the most common lower back injury. More often than not, a ligamentous sprain will take around 2-4 weeks to fully recover. Fortunately, most injuries of this kind are resolved simply by getting rest, but it does hamper a golfer and takes him or her out of the game for a while. A sprain usually brings localized pain in the lower back region, but pain can be severe enough to feel debilitating. A severe strain can hamper movement, cause muscle stiffness and joint fixations, and be acutely painful.
2) Disc injuries
In your lower back, the lumbar intervertebral disc separates your vertebrae in order to help brace and absorb forces. The disc also has the secondary function of allowing your nerves to exit your spinal column to the rest of your body. When too much force is put on your disc, you can develop a tear, which causes a bulge—hence the diagnosis you often hear of a “bulged disc.” An even more severe disc injury can be a ruptured disc, when the disc actually loses virtually all ability to handle stress. The nerves in these injuries can become injured, leading to intense pain and discomfort. Unlike a muscle strain, the pain from a disc injury will radiate from the area to nearby parts of your body.
Your brain knows best, or at least it thinks it does: altered motor control happens when your brain actually changes the way your lumbar spine moves and how the muscles operate. An altered motor control-related injury can take place without any visible injury. Most commonly, an altered motor control happens to correct a habit or to protect your body but, if allowed to continue, can actually cause chronic problems. This happens more often than you would think: experts say the vast majority of chronic back injuries begin because of altered motor control.
So what to do about these lower back problems? The answer is often simple: work on the biomechanics of your swing! Because a golf swing requires a tremendous amount of rotational force and transfer of that force throughout your body, you need to use the joints in your body that are designed to rotate. Your lumbar spine is designed to compress and flex but not rotate. Many lower back injuries occur because a golfer is relying on his or her lumbar spine to rotate.
At AMPD Golf Fitness, we design programs to help you feel and play better. When your biomechanics are off, and you are experiencing lower back pain, we have in-person and online training solutions to help you unleash your swing. So if you are suffering from chronic lower back pain, stop by to see us at our headquarters in Dallas, TX or utilize our online training programs.
By strengthening these muscles, you will break your reliance on using your lumbar spine to rotate the force of your swing, minimizing your risk of lower back injury. We want golfers to enjoy pain free golf, and doing so starts with our Feel Better Program Solution. We’ve designed this program to help golfers reduce their chance of developing lower back injuries. Contact us today to get started and sign up for our online fitness training videos to help you work out the muscle groups you need to unleash your swing and minimize your risk of injury.