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We do see a lot of keen golf players here at The Mayfair Clinic, and it’s quite common to experience back pain after a game of golf or after a session at the driving range. In this week’s article, we’ll be covering why you might be getting it, how you can avoid it and a few little tweaks you can make to help improve your play.

So what factors. In a game of golf might lead you to suffer from golf? One of the most important reasons, is the amount of bending over or bending forwards that occurs over the course of a game. Bending forward motions in general, no matter what sport you’re playing, can cause more pressure to affect the discs in the lower back in particular. When you bend forwards, you shift your weight onto the discs. Alone, this can compress them – but when combined with regular poor posture – it can be enough to cause a lot of irritation in the back. Too much compression on your discs can result in eventually bulging or herniating a disc, which will cause much more constant pain and potentially affect your everyday life on a much bigger scale than the odd ache or pain here and there. If you’re putting your discs in your lower back under stress, it’s quite common to feel like you need to stretch out your back or experiencing a ‘squashed’ feeling.

The next most common potential cause of irritation in your back can come from rotation of varying degrees. Rotation on its own would not be particularly problematic, but the issue stems from it being combined with bending forwards. The degree of variation in the rotation comes from the different movements involved in more subtle movements like putting, to the more of a fast swing of a drive. Rotation in combination with the bending forwards can put even further stress on your discs. The variety in the movement can be a triggering factor on its own, since you might be putting extra force behind those two movements, it increases the compressive load as the muscles really tighten up to support the golf swing. With a drive, that compression is going to be much higher than any of the other movements. Combining those movements, the rotation into flexion (bending forwards) and the contraction of the muscles, challenge those lower back muscles more than your normal everyday activities. In addition, it’s obviously a repetitive sport involving similar movements through a number of hours on the course. These movements all repeated will start to wear certain joints if you’re not careful and taking steps to make your life easier.

So what steps can you take to avoid getting back pain while you’re out on the course, or after the game has finished? When you get out onto the course or onto the driving range, and at the start of each swing you take – you’re going to want to set yourself up for the movement. Fatigue happens in a lot of sports, after you’ve been going for awhile it’s normal to lose a bit of that good form you had on the first hole, but it’s important to keep reminding yourself to correct your form at the start of each swing. As you take up your position in front of your ball with your club, set up your normal position as you would any other time, and make sure your bottom is stuck out with an arch in your lower back. When you tuck your bottom under, whether through tiredness or sloppiness, you put a more permanent bending into the lower back – it disengages some of your muscles and is generally not a strong position to be in. Make sure your lower back has an arch and your bottom is stuck out, so you have a nice curve in your lower back. Functionally, it’s a much better position for your lower back, and you’re going to get a nice, smooth swing. Structurally, this will protect your discs in the lower back and you’ll be only flexing from the hips rather than the lower back – this will mean the only stressor on your back becomes your rotation.
Another thing to help you experience less back pain, is to take regular breaks. When you’re on your way around the course, try to stretch your legs and avoid carrying your clubs unnecessarily. Whether that means you rent a buggy, or whether you buy a cart that fits your clubs in it to wheel around – these will help you significantly if you have a tendency to soldier through a game carrying your clubs. Carrying the clubs makes your life a little more difficult, and if you play for long periods of time it’s only going to contribute negatively towards that wear and tear on your body as it’s more compression.

After you’ve finished your round of golf, acknowledge it’s been 9-18 holes of very repetitive activity that’s going to have stressed out your body. Do you have a routine to help warm down at the end? Applying an ice pack to the bottom of your lower back, right on the area your belt would usually sit, for no more than 5 minutes at a time, two or three times in the evening after your game or after you’ve been to the driving range to take down the inflammation. It will also help to improve the circulation into the area which will be helpful for helping to heal your body. These steps can help not let any problems build up. The biggest mistake we see in patients that visit us, is that they often let their back pain get to the point where it’s significantly affecting their everyday life before seeking treatment. When back pain eventually stops them from being able to do the thing they enjoy the most, it can cause them a lot of stress at not being able to take part in their hobby. Don’t let the problem get too far, and take action to prevent a problem becoming one that affects all of your activities in your life.

If you can make these amendments in your routine when playing golf, you should find that your back pain doesn’t ever get out of sorts, or too far along, that you can’t actually play. We see quite regularly when back pain becomes too much that they no longer find enjoyment in practicing and playing golf, and it can really upset the patient. Make the changes, avoid carrying your bag if at all possible and do you best to make sure that you’re setting yourself up correctly to perform the swing, even in the later stages of a game in the back en dog the course. Let the lower back curve come through so you’ve got better alignment, and use a little bit of ice on your lower back after you’ve played to make sure you get a handle on the inflammation. If you do find your back pain to start affecting you, book in to see a professional who can assess your back. That way you can get answers as to what the problem is, some stretches or exercises that can make you stronger and remedy the situation, or provide some treatment to help the pressure off your back. With a more tailored personal approach to dealing with your back with reference to you playing golf and get you playing better and back playing as quickly as possible.

We hope this article has been helpful, and if you’ve got any questions about your golf game, or how your back’s being affected by playing golf, please feel free to get in touch by emailing us at info@themayfairclinic.com or calling us on 0203 947 3222, and we’ll do our best to answer all of your questions and be as helpful as possible.

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