How to Prevent Golf-Related Back Pain
There was a time when some people considered golf more of a hubby for out of shape athletes wannabes than a real sport. But things sure have changed. Golf is in, blossoming into a popular sport that attracts followers worldwide. With the increasing popularity of golf comes the question of how to prevent golf-related back pain.
Media Coverage of Golf Spreads Golf-Related Back Pain Awareness
Media coverage of star athletes such as Tiger Woods and Michelle Wei is also helping turn golf into a sport that can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Swinging the club on the open green, hitting the perfect shot, and playing in the warm sun seems a perfect way to spend the day for many people.
In the united states it is estimated that more than 27 million people play golf. Overall, golf may be considered a rather benign activity, if overuse can be avoided. If not, golf can result in serious, chronic back pain.
The Statics of Golf-Related Back Pain
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 102,000 golf-related injuries treated in doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency rooms in 2004, which incurred a total cost of approximately $2.5 billion in medical, work-loss, pain and suffering and legal costs.
The low back is the most common injury location for golf-related injury. Most injuries occur as a result of the golf swing, and occur mostly at impact.
Key Areas of Preventing Golf-Related Back Pain
Four key areas of preventing injury for the sport of golf include: warming up, swing, bio-mechanics, and carrying the golf bag. Follow these tips and you’ll avoid golf-related back pain and spend more time on the greens than the club house.
Warm-up Before Playing to Prevent Golf-Related Back Pain
Are you one of those golf players who has no warm-up or stretching routine? Are you a “grip it and rip it” type of player? Well, you need to stop what you’re doing unless you want to end up with excruciating back pain that will take you out of the game.
It’s normal that you would want to control the flight path of the ball through the air. After all, that’s what you see great players doing right? However, understand that those players don’t show a few minutes before tee time and just bash the ball. They leave plenty of time to warm up. You don’t want to just arrive at the greens, pull out your driver and proceed to hit the cover of the ball—doing so will most likely result in you spraining your back and getting back pain.
Bottom line is this: Before going out to play, spend 5-10 minutes in the clubhouse stretching. Focus on the lower back, shoulders and forearms. It is also important to warm-up and stretch any other musculoskeletal problem areas. Check out the video below for more information.
Bad Golf Swing and Golf-Related Back Pain
Most golf injuries occur as a result of the golf swing, and occur mostly at impact. Think about this: A typical golf swing creates sufficient stress (e.g. compressive load) on the lumbar spine to potentially injure the intervertebral discs.
This is another way of talking about what is often referred to as repetitive strain syndromes. In other words, you are swinging the club in such a way that you are putting extreme strain on muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and bones.
Minimizing Golf-Related Back injury Caused By a Poor Swing
You can performing these simple exercises to help strengthen lower back muscles:
Rowing: firmly tie the ends of rubber tubing. Place it around an object that is shoulder height like a door hinge. Standing with your arms straight out in front of you, grasp the tubing and slowly pull it toward your chest. Release slowly. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.
Pull-Downs: with the rubber tubing still around the door hinge, kneel and hold the tubing over your head. Pull down slowly toward your chest, bending your elbows as you lower your arms . Raise the tubing slowly over your head. Pull down slowly toward your chest, bending your elbows as you lower your arms. Raise the tubing slowly over your head. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions, at least three times a week. 
Bio-mechanically Set up to Reduce Risk of Golf-Related Back Pain
This is the recommended set up:
* During the set-up, the spine needs to be held relatively straight
(neutral) alignment. The trunk will still have to tilt forward
25-30 degrees when setting up to hit the ball, but this movement
should come mostly from flexion of the hip joints.
* In order for the hips to powerfully rotate through the backswing
and follow-through, BOTH feet need to be rotated outwards
approximately 25-30 degrees at set-up.
* A knee bend of about 25-30 degrees is also necessary to allow the
club head to be brought down to the ball without excessively flexing
the spine. 
Carrying The Golf Bag Safely to Prevent Golf-Related Low Back Pain
Repeated bending over to pick up a golf bag can stress the low back and lead to muscle strain. It’s a really good idea to pay someone else to do it. Hey, that’s a lot better than ruining your back. However, if you insist on carrying your own bag make sure to use one that has dual straps. This will enable you to evenly divide the weight across the back and reduce the chances of developing low back pain from an uneven load. Use proper back mechanics while lifting your bag (bend through the knees).
Do not hunch over the ball too much; it may predispose you to neck strain and rotator cuff tendinitis.
I hope the tips that I have given you will be helpful in avoiding golf-related back pain That said, I think if you are a beginner it would be a great idea to work with a golf pro when starting out. Most aspects of a golf swing are not natural or intuitive like kicking a soccer ball.
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“Keep Golf Injuries from Sending You to the Clubhouse; orthopedic surgeons offer tips to minimize golf-related injuries”. Business Wire, May 11, 2006.
“Golf-related low back pain: a review of causative factors and prevention strategies”. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 5, no. 4, 2014
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