Introduction

Lower back pain is the predominant concern among golfers, affecting approximately 30% of them. This common problem can be attributed to several factors, including overuse, excessive practice and poor swing mechanics. Understanding the origins of this lower back pain in the context of golf allows us to adopt preventive approaches and technical adjustments to promote the musculoskeletal health of golfers.

One of the leading causes of lower back pain in golfers is overuse. Golf, as a sport, involves repetitive movements, particularly the swing, engaging the lower back muscles on a continuous basis. When this activity is performed excessively without the necessary recovery periods, it can lead to muscle fatigue and contribute to the development of lower back pain.

Too intense practice, characterized by prolonged training sessions and frequent swings, also increases the risk of lower back pain. Avid golfers may be inclined to spend many hours perfecting their technique, but this can lead to overuse of the lower back muscles. The imbalance between training intensity and the body’s ability to recover can lead to injuries, including lower back pain.

Improper swing mechanics are another major contributing factor to lower back pain in golfers. The unnatural position of the back during the swing, combined with the movement always on the same side, creates a muscular imbalance. Asymmetrical stress is placed on the spine and associated muscles, which can lead to tension, inflammation and possibly persistent lower back pain.

To understand the impact of swing mechanics on lower back pain, it is essential to analyze the golfer’s posture. Improper posture, such as excessive arching of the lower back during the backswing, can put excessive stress on the spinal discs and surrounding structures. Additionally, the asymmetrical pivoting of the body during the swing movement can contribute to muscular imbalance and uneven stress on the spine.

Preventing lower back pain in golfers requires a holistic approach, combining technical adjustments, strengthening exercises and preventative practices. Golfers should work closely with health professionals, such as sports osteopaths, to evaluate and improve their swing mechanics. Guidance on posture, trunk rotation and balanced weight distribution can help reduce stress on the lower back.

Strength training exercises targeting the core and lower back muscles are essential for improving stability and endurance. A specific training program, developed in collaboration with fitness professionals, can help strengthen the muscles that support the spine, reducing the risk of injury.

Golfers should also incorporate rest and recovery periods into their training routine to avoid overuse. Alternating between intensive training sessions and rest days promotes muscle recovery, reducing the risk of excessive fatigue and lower back pain.

In conclusion, the prevalence of lower back pain among golfers can be attributed to overuse, too much practice, and poor swing mechanics. By taking a proactive approach focused on technical adjustment, muscle strengthening and preventative practices, golfers can not only improve their performance, but also maintain the health of their lower back. Working in collaboration with health professionals and specialized coaches contributes to a holistic approach aimed at minimizing the risk of lower back pain and promoting sustainable golf practice over the long term.

Condition that can cause low back pain when playing golf.

Several conditions can contribute to low back pain in golfers. Here are some of the potential causes:

  1. Herniated disc: A herniated disc occurs when the gelatinous nucleus inside an intervertebral disc protrudes from its socket. The rotational movements associated with the golf swing can put significant strain on the lumbar discs and contribute to the development of herniated discs.
  2. Lumbar osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis, also called osteoarthritis, is wear and tear of the articular cartilage. The twisting and bending movements associated with golf can accelerate the process of osteoarthritis in the lumbar vertebrae.
  3. Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can compress nerve roots. Golfers may experience lower back pain due to nerve compression during rotational movements.
  4. Poor posture and movement: Poor swing technique, incorrect posture, or inappropriate movements during golf can place excessive pressure on the spine and cause injury, contributing to lower back pain.
  5. Tight or tight muscles: The muscles in the lower back can become tight or tight due to repeated stress during the swing. This can lead to lower back pain.
  6. Muscle fatigue: General fatigue of the back muscles from excessive training or prolonged activity can increase the risk of low back pain in golfers.
  7. Anatomical factors: Individual anatomical structure can also contribute to low back pain. For example, excessive curvature of the spine (pronounced lumbar lordosis) can make the region more vulnerable.

It’s important for golfers to take steps to prevent lower back pain, including working on flexibility, strength and swing technique, and practicing good posture.

Spinal mobility decreases with age

Here are some of the main factors contributing to age-related decreases in spinal mobility:

  1. Intervertebral Disc Wear: The intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae, undergo age-related changes. They can lose water and become flattened, leading to decreased disc height and reduced range of motion.
  2. Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis, a condition characterized by the breakdown of articular cartilage, can affect the joints between the vertebrae (facet joints), leading to stiffness and reduced mobility.
  3. Decreased Bone Density: Loss of bone density, known as osteoporosis, can make vertebrae more fragile and susceptible to fracture, limiting mobility.
  4. Muscle and Tissue Stiffness: The muscles surrounding the spine and connective tissues can become stiffer with age, which can restrict mobility and flexibility.
  5. Alteration of Natural Curvatures: The natural curvatures of the spine, such as lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis, can be altered with age, affecting mobility.

The Golf swing

Rotational, torqueing and twisting forces in the lumbar region can pose a threat to the lower back muscles and spine. As previously stated, the golf swing generates a considerable amount of force on one side of the body, creating uneven pressure on the spine.

During the golf swing, significant forces of compression, shear, lateral flexion, and rotation act on the lumbar spine. The compression load associated with golf is eight times body weight (three times body weight while running). During the swing, the lower back is subjected to a compressive force of 1370 pounds in the amateur golfer and 1700 pounds in the professional. In comparison, a college football player experiences a compressive force of approximately 1,950 pounds when hitting a football blocking sled. It is important to note that a herniated disc only requires 1200 pounds of force to occur.

The causes of low back pain in Golf

Low back pain, or pain in the lumbar vertebrae of the spine, is a common concern among golfers. Several factors related to playing golf can contribute to the development of low back pain. Here are some of the possible causes:

  1. Repetitive Rotational Movements: Golf involves repetitive trunk rotational movements, especially during the swing. These movements can put excessive pressure on the lumbar spine, leading to muscle tension and pain.
  2. Wide Range of Motion: A full golf swing requires a wide range of motion, including trunk rotation and forward bending. If technique is not correct or the muscles are not flexible enough, this can contribute to lower back pain.
  3. Poor Posture: Improper posture during the swing, such as excessive curvature or sideways tilt of the trunk, can increase pressure on the lumbar spine.
  4. Uneven Strength: If the core muscles, especially the abdominal and lower back muscles, are not balanced in terms of strength, it can lead to instability and excessive tension in the lower back region.
  5. Equipment Choice: Using improper equipment, such as incorrectly sized golf clubs, can influence swing biomechanics and contribute to lower back pain.
  6. Overuse: Playing golf excessively without taking time to rest and recover can increase the risk of injuries, including lower back pain.
  7. Pre-Existing Conditions: Pre-existing medical conditions, such as spinal disc problems, arthritis or other spinal disorders, may be exacerbated by golf-specific movements.

Precautionary measure

Here are some specific preventative measures to reduce the risk of lower back pain in golfers:

  1. Proper warm-up: Before you begin your round of golf, spend time thoroughly warming up. This may include dynamic stretching exercises and movements to prepare the core, hip and leg muscles.
  2. Specific muscle strengthening: Incorporate muscle strengthening exercises, particularly for the core muscles (abdominals and lumbar muscles). A strong core provides better support to the spine during the swing.
  3. Proper Swing Technique: Work with a golf professional to develop a swing technique that minimizes stress on the lumbar spine. Poor swing technique can contribute to lower back pain.
  4. Using Proper Equipment: Make sure your golf clubs are appropriate for your size and level of play. Using appropriate equipment can help prevent compensatory movements and reduce stress on your lower back .
  5. Posterior stretch: Incorporate specific stretches for the back, hip and leg muscles into your exercise routine. This can help improve flexibility and reduce strain in the lumbar region.
  6. Course management: Choose golf courses that are suitable for your fitness level and avoid terrain that is too uneven. Changes in terrain can increase pressure on the lower back.
  7. Stress management: Stress can contribute to low back pain. Use stress management techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga, to help maintain an overall state of well-being.

Nutritional Tips for Bone Health

  1. Calcium :
    • Food sources: Dairy products, including milk, cheese and yogurt. Green leafy vegetables, almonds, and canned salmon are also rich in calcium.
    • Supplements: If dietary intake is insufficient, consider calcium supplements in the form of calcium carbonate or calcium citrate, in consultation with a healthcare professional.
  2. Vitamin D :
    • Food sources: Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and herring. Exposure to sunlight also promotes the synthesis of vitamin D.
    • Supplements: Consider vitamin D supplements, especially if sun exposure is limited. Doses should be adjusted according to individual needs.
  3. Vitamin K:
    • Food sources: Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli.
    • Role: Vitamin K contributes to bone mineralization.
  4. Magnesium:
    • Food sources: Nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.
    • Role: Magnesium is involved in bone formation and structure.
  5. Proteins:
    • Food sources: Lean meats, dairy products, eggs, legumes and nuts.
    • Importance: Proteins are essential for the formation and regeneration of bone tissue.
  6. Avoid Excess Caffeine and Alcohol:
    • Effect on calcium absorption: Excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol can interfere with calcium absorption, thereby affecting bone health.
  7. Maintain a Healthy Weight:
    • Pressure on the Vertebrae: Excessive weight can put additional pressure on the lumbar vertebrae. Maintaining a healthy weight is beneficial for bone health.
  8. Regular Exercise:
    • Muscle Strengthening: Exercise, especially muscle strengthening and weight-bearing activities, promotes bone health.
  9. Medical consultation :
    • Assessment of Individual Needs: Nutritional needs vary from person to person. A medical consultation can help determine specific needs and any supplements needed.
  10. Avoid Crash Diets:
    • Nutritional Balance: Restrictive diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies. An overall nutritional balance is essential for bone health.

Swing Adaptation Strategies

Adapt your golf swing to maintain spinal health by following these technical adjustment strategies:

  1. Balanced Posture:
    • Width of Feet: Adopt a stable posture with balanced width of feet. This promotes a solid foundation for your swing.
  2. Hip Rotation:
    • Engage the Hips: Initiate your swing by engaging the hips. This reduces excessive spinal twisting.
  3. Stretching Before the Swing:
    • Dynamic Stretches: Perform dynamic stretches before play to loosen core muscles and reduce strain on the spine.
  4. Maintaining the Natural Curve:
    • Natural Back: Keep your back in its natural curve throughout the swing movement. Avoid excessive arching.
  5. Shoulder Rotation:
    • Controlled Amplitude: Control the amplitude of shoulder rotation to avoid excessive twisting of the spine.
  6. Choice of Clubs:
    • Appropriate Clubs: Opt for clubs with shafts adapted to your size. Inappropriate clubs can force harmful postural adjustments.
  7. Balance Between Feet:
    • Balanced Distribution: Make sure your weight is evenly distributed between both feet during the swing to avoid excessive pressure on one side.
  8. Core Muscle Training:
    • Muscle Strengthening: Incorporate core muscle strengthening exercises into your workout routine to provide additional support to the spine.
  9. Monitored by a Professional:
    • Technical Analysis: Consult a golf professional for a technical analysis of your swing. Custom adjustments may be suggested based on your anatomy and playing style.
  10. Medical Considerations:
    • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you experience pain, adjust your swing accordingly and consider seeking medical attention.
  11. Proper warm-up:
    • Complete Warm-up: Spend sufficient time warming up before play to prepare your muscles for the physical exertion of the swing.

Psychological Factors

Low back pain in golfers can often be influenced by psychological factors. Understanding these elements is essential for a holistic approach to lower back pain management in golf.

  1. Stress and Low Back Pain:
    • Stress can make low back pain worse by increasing muscle tension. Golfers under pressure may experience increased pain. Stress management techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help.
  2. Performance Anxiety:
    • Performance anxiety can create increased muscle tension, exacerbating lower back pain. Mental preparation, pre-match routines and coaching advice can ease anxiety.
  3. Recovery Psychology:
    • Pain perception and the psychology of recovery are linked. Positive attitudes and an optimistic view of recovery can promote faster recovery.
  4. Managing emotions :
    • Emotions such as frustration or disappointment after a bad blow can influence pain. Learning emotional management techniques can mitigate these effects.
  5. Confidence and Self-Perception:
    • Low self-confidence can lead to wariness in movements, making the pain worse. Working with a sports psychologist can build confidence and improve self-perception.

Tips for Coping with Psychological Factors:

  1. Consultation with a Sports Psychologist:
    • A sports psychologist can help identify and treat psychological factors related to low back pain. Stress management techniques and mental strategies can be integrated.
  2. Mental Training:
    • Mental training, including visualization and relaxation, can reduce stress and build confidence, helping with pain management.
  3. Pain Education:
    • Understanding the nature of pain, including its relationship to stress, can help golfers better manage their condition and avoid cycles of chronic pain.
  4. Development of Pre-Match Routines:
    • Structured, positive pre-match routines can alleviate performance anxiety, creating a mental state conducive to pain reduction.
  5. Integration of Relaxation Techniques:
    • Meditation, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques can be incorporated before, during and after play to alleviate physical and mental stress.

Rehabilitation and Training Techniques

Golf rehabilitation and training programs aim to strengthen core muscles, improve stability, and promote better body mechanics during the swing. Here are some specific techniques and exercises used in these programs:

  1. Trunk Strengthening:
    • Abdominal core: Exercises such as plank and core variations strengthen the abdominal muscles essential for core stability.
    • Trunk twists: Seated or standing rotations help strengthen the oblique muscles and improve trunk flexibility.
  2. Stability of the Pelvis and Hips:
    • Bridge exercises: Strengthen the gluteal muscles and stabilize the pelvis.
    • Lateral Leg Raises: Target the hip muscles for better stability.
  3. Shoulder Mobility:
    • Stretching and Rotation Exercises: Improve shoulder mobility, essential for smooth arm movement during the swing.
  4. Balance and Coordination:
    • Single Leg Exercises: Improve balance and strengthen small stabilizing muscles.
    • Use of unstable platforms: Incorporates unstable surfaces to improve proprioception.
  5. Stretching Techniques:
    • Golf Muscle-Specific Stretches: Target muscles used during the swing, such as the thigh, back and shoulder muscles.
  6. Biomechanical Analysis of the Swing:
    • Use of sensors and analysis tools: Allows you to evaluate body mechanics during the swing, identifying areas for improvement.
  7. Functional Integration:
    • Functional exercises mimicking the swing movement: Integrate strength and stability into golf-like movements.
  8. Individualized Programs:
    • Adaptation to specific needs: Programs are adapted according to individual weaknesses, muscular imbalances and the player’s goals.
  9. Cardiovascular training:
    • Adapted cardio: A specific cardiovascular workout to improve endurance while maintaining a heart rate suitable for golf.
  10. Injury Prevention Education:
    • Tips on swing technique: To minimize stress on the body and prevent injuries.

Golf Recommendations

Here are some tips for preventing and managing golf-related lower back pain:

  1. Proper warm-up: Before playing golf, be sure to do warm-up exercises to prepare your body, focusing on the core, hip and leg muscles. This can help improve flexibility and reduce stress on your lower back.
  2. Strengthening exercises: Incorporate muscle strengthening exercises, particularly for the abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, and core stabilizing muscles. A strong core can help support the spine during the golf swing.
  3. Proper Swing Technique: Work with a golf professional to develop a swing technique that minimizes stress on the lower back. Poor movement or posture during the swing can contribute to lower back pain.
  4. Post-Play Stretching: After a round of golf, take time to stretch, focusing on the core, hip and leg muscles. This can help relieve muscle tension built up during play.
  5. Using Proper Equipment: Make sure your golf clubs are appropriate for your size and level of play. Using appropriate equipment can help reduce stress on the back during play.
  6. Terrain Management: Choose golf courses that have flatter terrain and avoid uneven terrain whenever possible. Changes in terrain can increase pressure on the lower back.

Stretching

  1. Stretching the lumbar quadratus muscle:
    • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Gently tilt your upper body to one side while keeping your hips straight.
    • Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  2. Hamstring stretch:
    • Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
    • Bend forward at the hips, trying to touch your toes.
    • Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  3. Psoas stretch:
    • On your knees, place one foot in front of you with your knee bent at 90 degrees.
    • Lean forward while keeping your back straight.
    • Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  4. Stretching the gluteal muscles:
    • Lie on your back, bend your knees and place one ankle on the other knee.
    • Gently pull your lower leg toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your buttock.
    • Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  5. Stretching the piriformis muscle:
    • In a seated position, cross one leg over the other bent knee.
    • Gently turn your upper body to the opposite side of the crossed leg.
    • Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

These stretches aim to improve the flexibility of the muscles in your lower back, hips, and legs, which can help reduce strain on the lumbar spine. Make sure you perform them gently and without excessive pain. If you experience pain while stretching, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional.

Osteopathy

Here is how osteopathy can potentially help in the context of low back pain associated with golf:

  1. Overall Assessment: The osteopath will perform an overall assessment of your body, focusing on the lumbar region, spine, hips and other parts of the body that may be involved in low back pain. This assessment will identify imbalances, muscle tension, movement restrictions and other relevant factors.
  2. Reduction of muscle tension: Osteopaths use muscle relaxation techniques to reduce tension in the muscles of the lumbar region and trunk. This can help relieve pain associated with lower back pain.
  3. Restoring joint mobility: Gentle joint manipulations can be used to improve mobility in the joints of the spine and hips. This can help restore smoother movement and reduce stress on the lumbar region during the golf swing.
  4. Correction of postural imbalances: If postural imbalances are identified, the osteopath can work to correct them. This may involve postural adjustments and advice on how to improve posture during the game of golf.
  5. Advice for prevention: In addition to treatment, the osteopath can provide advice on specific exercises, stretches and lifestyle adjustments to prevent the recurrence of low back pain.

Conclusion

In conclusion, low back pain in golfers is often caused by a combination of factors such as repetitive rotational movements, extended range of motion, poor posture, uneven forces, inappropriate equipment choices, and overuse. These problems can lead to conditions such as herniated discs, lumbar osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, tight muscles, muscle fatigue, anatomical factors, and others.

To prevent low back pain, golfers are encouraged to adopt preventive measures such as adequate warm-ups, specific muscle strengthening, adoption of appropriate swing technique, use of adapted equipment, posterior stretching, management of the field, and stress management. Nutritional counseling focusing on calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, protein, and other elements is also recommended for bone health.

Psychological factors such as stress, performance anxiety, recovery psychology, emotion management, confidence and self-perception can also influence low back pain, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach.

Rehabilitation and training techniques, including core strengthening, pelvic and hip stability, shoulder mobility, balance and coordination, specific stretches, swing biomechanical analysis, and cardiovascular training, are recommended to improve the physical condition of golfers.

Finally, osteopathy can play a role in relieving lower back pain by performing a global assessment, reducing muscle tension, restoring joint mobility, correcting postural imbalances and providing prevention advice.

It is essential for golfers to take proactive steps to prevent lower back pain, through a combination of technical adjustments, physical exercise, proper nutrition, and a holistic approach to physical and mental health.