Jeffrey Foucrier PT, DPT, OCS, CMTPT
Spooner Physical Therapy – Scottsdale
The old adage of ‘no pain, no gain’ has fallen out of fashion in rehabilitative medicine. Granted, there is a time and place for activity related soreness, but, generally speaking, pain is an indicator of tissue damage. That sounds all ‘well-and-good,’ but what does this mean for you? Contextually, 50% of professional and amateur golfers suffer from lower back pain.1,2 Of these, most are associated with abnormal swing mechanics and repeated compensatory movements that lead to tissue strain, failure and eventual break-down.1,3 The key word here is ‘repetitive.’ The complex and asymmetric stresses that the golf swing puts on the lower back and associated body parts are astounding. Consequently, areas of limited mobility and strength can lead to compensatory mechanics and, when used frequently, lead to an increase in the risk for injury. Of note, it has been found that golfers with lower back pain tend to practice their full swings twice as much as their asymptomatic counter-parts.1
So, where does this leave you? Hopefully this hasn’t caused undo anxiety, because awareness is not fruitless. Activity should be purposeful and each participant of golf should try and high-light the body’s incredible resilience to injury. To do this, you should ‘exercise’ your capacity to practice and prepare yourself for specific movements, with these ‘Gimmes:’
- Listen to your body: With soreness that goes away after warm-up, continue with your current routine. If you have soreness that persists after warm-up, take a few days off.3
- Be pro-active: If your soreness develops into sharp or traveling pain, please seek out professional help.
- Practice what you do: Incorporate part-practice in your stretching and exercise routine (e.g. stretch your hip to improve rotational mobility and strengthen your abdominal and back core to improve rotational control)
- Modify your swing from the modern golf swing to the classic golf swing: Research has shown that 90% of lower back injuries in professional golfers result from repeated use of the modern golf-swing.1,2
Training should incorporate multi-planar stretches and exercises that optimize movement of the desired activity, in this case the golf-swing. This type of pro-active approach will minimize pain, reduce chances for injury and maximize performance. Additional considerations should be made regarding a golf club fitting and working with either Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) or Nike Golf 360 (NG360) certified trainers or physical therapists.
Here’s to you finding and maintaining your ‘Health in Motion!’
1. Cole M and Grimshaw P. The crunch factor’s role in golf-related low back pain. The Spine Journal 14 (2014) 799–807
2. Gluck G, Bendo J and Spivak J. The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention. The Spine Journal 8 (2008) 778–788
3. Brumitt J and Dale R. Functional Rehabilitation Exercise Prescription for Golfers. 2008 Human Kinetics • ATT I3(Z),