Golf may be a non-contact sport, but that does not mean it is a sport with low rates of injuries. In fact, golf injuries are very common, and the most commonly injured part of a golfer’s body is the back. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to be proactive and protect your back from golf-related injuries. Whether you’re a golfer living with back pain or are trying to reduce your risk of injury, these tips will help you protect your back.
What To Do
Before you begin your round of golf, take about 10 minutes or so to warm up your body and prepare it for the upcoming activity. Take a brisk walk or do some jumping jacks to loosen up, and stretch your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, spine, and pelvis. You should also swing your golf club a few times, slightly extending your range of motion with each swing to ease yourself into it. Stretching regularly will also help in improving your range of motion and making your swing smoother.
Most injuries sustained while playing golf are due to poor mechanics or overuse. This is why it’s important to make sure that you use the proper form when swinging. The power of your golf swing should be transferred evenly throughout all your muscle groups. Depending largely on one part of the body for hitting power will make you more vulnerable to injury.
Maintaining proper posture will protect you from injuring yourself as well. You should be standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and rotated slightly outward, and your knees should be slightly bent. Keep your spine straight and your trunk tilted forward. When swinging, most of the movement should come from your hips. You should also try to avoid hunching over the ball, as this can cause back neck strain.
Focusing on strengthening your muscles off of the golf course will also help protect your back. Strong, conditioned muscles are less likely to become injured. Perform strength training exercises in order to build up your muscles, especially core muscles as these will help support and protect your back.
If you prefer to carry your own bag, use the correct lifting technique in order to avoid back or shoulder pain due to injury. When lifting your bag, keep your back straight and use your leg strength to do the lifting, rather than lifting with your back.
If you are returning to playing golf after back surgery or after recovering from a back injury, you will want to reduce the length of your swing in order to prevent back pain.
What Not To Do
It is common for golfers to overswing, but you should take care to avoid this. Swinging the club too hard or too fast will put stress on your joints. Remember that the best golfers have the most consistent swing tempos, not necessarily the fastest.
Avoid jumping straight into practicing your swing for hours on end or playing too many holes before your body is ready for that amount of exercise and strain. Instead, slowly work up to the level of activity that you would like to be at.
When swinging, or even when standing, avoid uneven surfaces as this can affect your posture. Remember that improper posture puts added strain on your back and can lead to pain.
Climbing in and out of sand traps can potentially lead to back pain and injury, so it is best to avoid this if possible.
You should also take care to avoid having too much lateral sway or hip rotation in your golf swing. Not only will this reduce the power of your swing and cause inconsistency, but it also puts added stress on your lower back. Use a slightly open stance and rotate your lead leg outward along your target line at least 30 degrees. This will allow for less rotation of your leading leg when finishing your swing.
If you’re golfing with a disc condition, avoid bending forward as much as possible. Consider using a device that will allow you to place your tee and ball on the ground as well as retrieve it without having to bend over. As much as possible, keep your knees and spine straighter to reduce forward flexed posture and to make your swing more upright. You may need to use longer clubs or a larger stance width.
It’s certainly possible to sustain an injury while golfing, especially an injury that will lead to back pain. However, carefully following these tips will protect your back and reduce your likelihood of back pain.
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