Lower back pain with golf is one of the most common problems that we see at our physical therapy office. Sometimes the pain is at the base of the spine (SI joint), down the spine, across the spine, or in the muscles on the sides of the spine. It could even radiate down the leg. Common diagnoses associated with low back pain include degenerative disc disease, disc herniations, sciatica, and lumbar strains.
To obtain an accurate diagnosis, an examination would be needed. Although there are differences in how each of those conditions should be treated, there are common limitations that exist when it comes to playing golf and low back pain.
Some factors that contribute to back pain when playing golf include poor mechanics when swinging the club. Some golfers don't understand how to rotate at their hips and upper back. They may also have a hard time engaging their buttock muscles. If this is the case, they may twist excessively at their lower back. Over time, this can cause back problems.
In other cases, low back pain with golf is associated with poor mobility of the hips and the t-spine. This can be combined with the weakness of the abdominal and lower back muscles. These imbalances may lead to movement compensations and faulty spine mechanics. The best way to know what exactly is contributing to back pain when playing golf is to have a movement assessment performed.
Once you know what your specific limitations are, the typical recommendation is to take a short break from golf. This allows for an environment for irritation to settle down and healing to take place. While taking a break usually helps with pain, in order to get back to playing golf without pain, you will need to address the root problems.
If the lower back is flared up, hands-on therapy to alleviate pain and improve mobility should be performed. This can also be performed independently with a foam roller or lacrosse ball. Advanced treatment techniques include dry needling of the lower back muscles. If it is a relatively recent injury, having your spine manually manipulated can have a powerful effect on pain.
Once the acute pain has subsided, the next step is to perform activation exercises to engage muscles that are not firing well. Beginner exercises include bridges, active straight leg raises, and "angry cat" exercises. Once muscles engage better, the next step is learning how to rotate at the hips with and without resistance.
When addressed with a specialized physical therapy program, playing golf without back pain is possible. However, ignoring pain may result in a more serious spine condition. If you have low back pain with lifting, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to be a resource for you.
We have a free guide on relieving back pain that can give you further insight into back problems and help kickstart your recovery. We are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your pain is affecting you and discuss your treatment options.
If you're considering physical therapy, we offer a limited number of free Discovery Visits at our office. This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your back pain, and foster confidence that we can help you.
If you’re in pain and unsure about what your next steps should be, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.