“Why Does My Back Hurt After a Round of Golf?”

“Why is it my low back hurts after I get done playing a round of golf?”

was a question we got asked just last week…

So let’s talk about the sport itself. Golf. It’s a rotational sport.  We rotate through the trunk from the hips, all the way up through the shoulders to your hands.  Then, down through to the opposite side and then transfers all that energy to the club head and then into the ball. Hopefully, then you hit the ball square.  Then you hit it straight and right down the middle of the fairway.  It puts a lot of torque on our spine, which in turn puts a lot of stress, potentially on our spine. Now the best way to go about protecting the spine is to make sure you have great mobility and that you have good support structures around that spine. So I’m gonna talk to you about a few common areas that we tend to see problems associated people that like to play golf.

So first is weakness. This can be weakness of the hip muscles, possibly the hip flexors, hip abductors or the glutes. And then can be into our abdominal muscles.  We are talking primarily at our deeper abdominal muscles which are transverse abdominis and our multifidus. These are actually the stabilizers of our spine. If you have a weakness issue and even potentially an endurance issue, then activities that are going to specifically address that are gonna be really important for you to do. If it’s an endurance issue, then you’re gonna need to do these activities for a sustained period of time and do them repetitively, much like a golf swing.

Another reason you experience pain after playing golf could also be a mobility issue. If it’s a mobility issue, it could be either muscle or it could be joint. If it’s a mobility issue, usually we see this as a hip rotation mobility limitation or it’s related to hamstrings, glutes, or hip flexors.  It could also be related to the muscles in the chest. Believe it or not, you need to have good chest mobility in order to initiate that golf swing. And because the movement is from one rotation into the other direction, you need mobility really through the entire body.

If it’s a joint problem, you can do things to yourself that can address some of the joints. But unfortunately, it’s better to actually have a professional do this for you. That’s not saying that you can’t do it. But if I’m a mechanic and I fix cars on a regular basis, would you rather the mechanic work on your car? Or  if you are somebody who’s never worked on a car before, go ahead and attempt to look under the hood and figure out what the problem is..again, you can do it. But the risk is you might actually do more harm than you do good.

The other thing it could be is that maybe you have a bad swing. And that’s not saying your swing is bad every single time. But let’s say even 80% of the time you have a good swing. That means 20% of the time you have a bad swing. If you’re an average golfer, you’re probably looking at somewhere between 90 and a hundred swings, which means there’s about 15 to 20 bad swings in there. That can be enough to put a tremendous amount of force, torque, and stress on your body that’s going to cause you to have issues.

So if that’s the case, I would recommend that you get a golf coach or a swing coach or golf pro to go ahead and look at it. Again, the same premise as previously stated. I would rather that somebody who do this day in and day out save me the headache and the time by addressing it because they’re trained. They have the trained eye to catch it and therefore they can give you tips to resolve that issue quickly.

Another part of that could also be maybe you’re just a weekend warrior so you only play golf on the weekends. If that’s the case, I would encourage you to get out there at least once, maybe even twice during the week to work on your swing. It could be something as simple as taking, 20, 30, maybe even 50 golf swings. But going through and actually hitting because you need that muscle memory and repetition.  Repetition leads to consistency.

So that’s another way that you can go about again being more on the forefront of addressing the issues that may exist. So to recap, it could be a mobility problem.  It could be a strength or endurance issue problem or it could be just a purely a poor mechanics issue.

If you’d like to find out more information about the things that we do to help people that play golf and that have low back pain, you can visit our website at www.level4pt.com/back-pain. If you’re interested, there’s a free, “Tips Report,” that’s on there. Go ahead and fill out the simple form and click submit and then we’ll shortly send you an email afterwards that contains that PDF. It is some of the most useful tips that we’ve had that our clients have given us feedback on that they have found to be most beneficial.

Remember, the best hole is the 19th hole. And if you’re in pain on the 19th hole, that’s never any way to finish your round. So get out there, have fun, enjoy the sun. And don’t have any back pain. Make sure if you do, that you get it addressed so that you can make it the best so it doesn’t affect you socially, psychologically, and physically!

<<< Click here to get to the low back tips report sent directly to your email >>>

Chris Ingstad, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, ATC, FAAOMPT

Chris Ingstad, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, ATC, FAAOMPT

Dr. Chris Ingstad is a nationally-known Physical Therapist and Co-Founder of North County San Diego’s Leading Specialist Private Physical Therapy and Human Performance Practice for People in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, who value their health and want to remain active.

You might know Dr. Chris as a National Conference presenter on various rehabilitation topics, including on treating people with shoulder, neck and low back injuries. He also teaches at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in the Musculoskeletal track, where he brings clinical practice into the classroom for future physical therapists. He also is published in Jiu Jitsu Magazine and Coastal Newspaper on various areas, including low back and neck and shoulder injuries.

Dr. Chris’ background included working extensively with athletes with shoulder, knee and low back injuries, taking them from post-injury or post-operative to return to sport. He prides himself on the ability to get positive outcomes, even with difficult cases. Level4 Physio-Wellness-Performance is now a large multi-physical therapy specialty practice in Carlsbad, CA. 
Chris Ingstad, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, ATC, FAAOMPT

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