Mishock PT fitness tip: Golfers have no reason to 'back' down

 
By Sally A. Caldwell, DPT, Clinical Director of Phoenixville clinic
 
Golf has become a very popular sport for people of all ages, but with any sport, injuries can occur, especially to the back, causing low back pain.  And for those who have chronic, long standing back pain, this can hinder and limit their ability to play.
 
Preventing Low Back Pain in Golf
  • Stretch!  Swinging your club at full speed before warming up is a sure way to sprain and strain your lower back.  Stretching should emphasize the shoulder, torso, and hip regions as well as the hamstring muscles.  Next, gently swinging the golf club through the range of motion will prepare the muscles that produce torque (force) and torsion (twisting).  When going to the driving range, start with your smaller irons and work up to your larger woods to incrementally warm up the muscles.
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  • Practice swinging before playing!  The goal of the golf swing is to produce sufficient club head speed by incorporating enough torque and torsion.  This force and twisting is applied to the low back.  A smooth, rhythmic swing can help reduce the chance of injuring the back by minimizing muscular effort and disc and facet loading.  A proper swing distributes the load through the shoulders, hips, and thoracolumbar segments.
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  • Biomechanics of golf and the low back.  The force generated by the golf swing puts most pressure on the L5-S1 joint.  It is at this level of the lumbar spine that there is a large rotational component.  The higher levels of the low back allow for more flexion and extension.  The younger golf population (30-40 year olds) generally can swing the golf club faster, producing more torque and torsion at the L5-S1 level.  It is especially important for this population to emphasize hamstring stretching to allow more motion at the pelvis and less at the lumbar spine.
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  • Carrying the golf bag.  Make sure the golf bag has dual shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight.  A golf bag with an integrated stand will open when the bag is set down in order to reduce the need to bend over to pick up the bag from the ground.
 
Golfers with low back pain
For millions of people who suffer from long standing, chronic low back pain, golf can still be an enjoyable sport. Stretching and low impact exercise is very important to maintain the ability to continue playing.  People with chronic low back pain tend to lose flexibility and this can lead to further injury.  Regular, daily stretching is critical to help prevent further pain and injury.  Low impact, aerobic exercise like walking or riding the stationary bike for 30-40 minutes, at least three times weekly, is usually well tolerated for golfers with low back pain.
 
At Mishock Physical Therapy & Associates, we treat this condition on a regular basis.  First, a comprehensive evaluation is done to assess the severity and then a plan of care is formulated.  Most often this plan consists of specific stretching, joint mobilizations, therapeutic exercise, massage, as well as patient education and a home exercise program.
 
We can help!
If pain is limiting you from doing the activities you enjoy, give Mishock Physical Therapy a call for a FREE Phone Consultation at (610)327-2600 or email your questions to mishockpt@comcast.net.
Visit our website to learn more about our treatment philosophy, our physical therapy staff, and our six convenient locations in Gilbertsville, Skippack, Phoenixville, Barto, Limerick and Stowe at www.mishockpt.com.