Golf, like many sports has extremely beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. However, the forces that are applied with a golf swing can for some people be problematic. This can lead to injuries of the lower back. With millions of players across Europe and tens of million playing across the US this can lead to a lot of frustrated individuals who can’t get back to doing what they love due to injury.

Why does your lower back hurt when golfing?

  • Muscle weakness or poor mobility- Like any sport or activity a certain level of strength and mobility is required to efficiently and safely perform them. In golf looking at the strength and mobility in the core, hips, lower back and thoracic spine is key to ensure proper distribution of force throughout the body when playing.
  • Type of swing- A modern or a classic golf swing can have a large effect on where the forces are put through your body specifically the lower back. The modern swing involves less hip rotation with lots of torso rotation. This is proposed to increase the amount of rotational forces on the lower back.
  • Forces on the lower back- When performing a golf swing compressive forces up to 8 times your body weight are put on the lower back. For the average UK male that can mean up to 668 kg of force.
  • Asymmetries- Due to the one sided nature of golf differences in muscle mass and strength often occur within the body. As well as this specific asymmetries such as the difference in side to side planks have been shown to increase the risk of lower back injury.

Symptoms of lower back pain

Lower back pain can be mulit-factorial meaning it can develop for many reasons at the same time. It may set in slowly or suddenly and is commonly described as:

• A dull ache
This can develop quickly or gradually and is normally felt across one side of the back depending on your dominant hand. This is due to the trailing side often being exposed to the greatest forces.

• Sharp spasm like pain
This is commonly caused by a spasm in one of the lower back muscles. It can happen for many reasons however it is commonly down to the body becoming overloaded. This sets off a defensive mechanism that locks the lower back in an attempt to protect it from any further damage.

• Pain that shoots down into the hips or leg
Pain that refers down into the hip or leg can come from nerve compression. This commonly comes from a disc pushing onto the nerve root at the lower back.

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