Golf is a low-impact aerobic exercise that people thoroughly enjoy, especially older adults. It is a perfect getaway from confined rooms and crowded spaces. Older individuals enjoy it as a luxury sport that gives them a sense of social status.
However, you must often ask yourself a question: “Is golf bad for your back?”. The answer is – yes! Although, most passionate golfers do not care about it, as the golf swing can be the cause of a constant backache. If you are not careful, you may need spine surgery in severe cases.
Since mature people usually play golf, it can be safely assumed that their spine is already suffering from wear and tear. Research shows that by the mid-20s, people start experiencing abnormalities in the spine. As such, there is already a very limited number of people who have a “normal spine.” The article will give you all the information you need to know about golf-related back pains.
How Is Golf Bad for Your Back?
A common belief circulates amongst people about golf not being a physically challenging sport. However, they fail to understand the twisting of the spine, the disc compressions, or the bending. During golf, the spine experiences a lot of torque, pressure, and energy.
The transfer of energy from the ground to the ball causes strain on the back. The twists and rotations cause pain in the facet joints. The twisting can also weaken the disc. As a matter of fact, there are 1300-1700 pounds of compressive pressure on the back during a golf swing. Extensive pressure, force, and abnormal twisting or turning and turning can damage the spine in many ways.
In addition to this, several incorrect postures and techniques in golf can also worsen lower back pain. Some of them include:
- Prolonging the golf swing by rotating your body at an unsafe angle
- Playing golf with weak core muscles
- Placing excessive force on the trailing side as you bend for the forward swing
- Engaging the wrong muscles in the improper techniques
- Playing golf for a very long time without breaks
These are just a few mistakes that are common in golfers. Such errors can cause muscle fatigue and increase the risk of muscle strain and tear.
Back Injuries and their Symptoms
The severity of the back injuries vary. The symptoms may appear gradually over time or not at all. Some golf-related back injuries include:
The Lumbar Strain is caused when muscle fibers spasm out of control and are abnormally torn. The ligaments are torn from their attachments and cause severe pain. The pain from this kind of injury can persist for up to 2 weeks. Affected people cannot maintain the normal posture and experience lower back stiffness that spreads into the buttocks.
A herniated disk can cause a lot of pain and numbness. It can occur anywhere in the spine. When the herniated disk is in the lower back, you may experience numbness and weakness in the arms or legs. Usually, the calf, thighs, and buttocks are affected.
Sometimes, the herniated disk shows no symptoms. However, the pain may shoot into your leg when you move in certain positions. Persistent pain and weakness can affect your ability to hold or lift items and sometimes cause you to stumble while walking. The pain of a herniated disc can be described as sharp and electric.
Dull Ache on One Side
The trailing side of a golfer experiences maximum force, so there can be a dull ache on the right-hand side or the left-hand side. Muscle spasms, torn ligaments, or damaged discs may accompany dull back pain. It is not a sharp or stinging pain, rather than a dull pain on either side.
Sciatica pain is felt along the path of the enormous sciatica nerve in our body. It only originates from the sciatic nerve that connects the spinal cord with the lower body muscles, including legs and buttocks. It is a burning sensation that starts from the lower back and travels to the legs or feet. Numbness, tingling sensation, and weakness are common symptoms of sciatica.
Typically, only one side is affected by sciatica and experiences shooting pain. Performing routine activities such as sitting, bending, or even coughing with sciatica may get complicated. A heat pack may relieve the painful symptoms of sciatica.
When the lower back spine curves inward excessively are called lordosis. To check if you have lower back lordosis, you can lie on a flat surface, and if there is space between the surface and your back, you may have it. Lordosis weakens the thighs and restrains mobility. Bladder incontinence, weakness, and tingling are some of the symptoms of lordosis.
Golf-related problems are not limited to just the lower back but also the thoracic and upper back. Overworked and torn muscles cause most golf-related injuries. Physically demanding movements require strong muscles. Here are some simple solutions to help you get rid of back pain and enjoy golf wholeheartedly.
- Take professional golf lessons to learn the swinging techniques.
- Before you start playing golf, remember to warm up your muscles by stretching or taking a good walk.
- Try avoiding more giant swings as they carry more potential to cause injury.
- Start working out to strengthen the core muscles. Core exercises include planks, yoga, and pilates.
- Moderate weightlifting can also increase the bulk of your muscles and hence, protect you from muscle injury.
You can practice some gentle stretches during extensive golf sessions to avoid lower back pain. Moreover, if these stretches are performed religiously, they can increase the flexibility of your muscles.
Hip flexibility and upper back rotation are crucial in golf. Hence to practice the correct movements, you can hold a large ball with both hands and mimic the actions of a golf swing. Keep your core muscles tightened while you do this. You have to focus on just moving the upper spine and then the hips as you swing. Keep repeating this until you feel comfortable enough to practice with a golf club.
In addition to this, hamstring stretches are very beneficial for flexibility. There are many ways to stretch the hamstrings. However, a very convenient way is to stand straight and put your left leg right in front of you. Then gently lean forward and place your hands on the bent left leg. During this time, your right leg will also slightly bend. Hold yourself in this stretch for at least 10 seconds and keep your back straight at all times.
Take these precautionary steps before playing golf. Keep in mind that if you are not healthy and active, you will never be able to enjoy the game to the fullest.
Wrapping It Up
If you can play golf correctly, you can easily avoid or treat chronic back pain. Moreover, professional golf players play golf with recurring episodes of back pain. Golf improves the cardiovascular health of individuals. Studies suggest that a golfer can walk up to 3 miles every day while playing golf, consequently improving their health. Overworked and torn muscles cause most golf-related injuries.
Adults relish golf as it is a fantastic outdoor activity away from stuffy gyms or closed spaces. It is a perfect chance for older adults to get out in the fresh air and relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Naturally, fresh air is essential for everyone to feel at ease. It also provides the much-needed Vitamin D that we can never get in confined spaces.
Golf is a sport that a group of friends and family can thoroughly enjoy. The health benefits of golf clearly outweigh the risks that come with it. However, always practice precaution and enjoy!