A recent study from the Journal of Neurosurgery shows that the modern golf swing is causing more back injuries to both professionals and amateurs. According to the doctors at Barrow Neurological Institute, the popular “X-factor” swing favored by many popular pros may hit balls harder and farther, but it can also put an extra strain on the spine.
Today’s golfers are more muscular and have a much more powerful downswing, which can put an increased force on the spinal discs and joints. The “X-factor” swing tries to achieve maximum rotation of the player’s shoulders relative to their hips, which comes at a cost of twisting the lumbar spine.
While this can sound worrisome for golfers, there are several preventative ways to avoid a back injury. Mike Poe, general manager at Quintero Golf Club, has some tips below to help reduce your chances of causing harm.
Take it easy. If you haven’t played in a couple weeks or longer, avoid hitting 300 balls at the driving range on your first day back. This will put you at a greater risk of injury. You are better off hitting 100 balls three times a week and starting with smaller swings as you work your way up.
See a golf coach. Working with a professional can help identify and fix compromise swing mechanics. Your coach may work on changing your swing or body movement, and typically those results in reducing the load being placed on the back.
Spine Positioning. Maintain a neutral spine position when leaning over the ball before swinging. Keep your spine in its relaxed position of comfort and bend with your hips and knees. Remember to turn the hips and shoulders to help reduce rotating the lumbar spine.
Strength and conditioning. Golf requires serious stamina. It is recommended to do 30 minutes of low-impact exercise daily to increase the strength and flexibility of your abdomen and lower back. The majority of back injuries from swinging are due to overuse, so the stronger your core, the more able you are to do repetitive swing. Be sure to exercise your hips, glutes, lats and obliques too.
Warm up. This can be as simple as spending a couple of minutes taking practice swings to get the blood pumping and warm up the muscles. It is important to start with a light jog or an aerobic activity of your choice before stretching to ensure your muscles are working properly with the right range of motion in order to reduce stiffness and injury. Studies have shown that golfers who have stiffer back rotation and less joint range of motion have more back pain.
If you’re worried about that pesky lower back pain ruining your swing, remember these five tips the next time you get ready to play.
With more than 20 years of experience in the golf industry, Poe is the general manager at Quintero Golf Club. Located near Lake Pleasant in Peoria, Quintero Golf Club has been ranked the Best Public Golf Course by both Golf Digest and Golf Weekly Magazine. For more information, visit quinterogolf.com.