Back Pain and Senior Golfers

Back Pain and Senior Golfers

As a senior or older golfer, you will no doubt have friends or even playing partners who suffer from back pain as a result of playing golf, this article back pain and senior golfers will hopefully shed some light on the subject for you. Whilst back pain in golfers of all ages is common, it seems that as we age we become more exposed to the underlying causes of muscular aches and pains. Having an understanding of how your back is at risk of injury will help you to prevent being deprived of playing pain-free, enjoyable golf.

This article will address the main reasons why senior golfers are at risk of back injury and will help you to take some simple measure towards ensuring that your body remains conditioned to facilitate the movements of your golf swing. Back Pain and Senior Golfers

Golf swing power is rotation and resistance

There are a lot of moving parts in the golf swing and just like any well-oiled machine, the strength and mobility of those parts are critical to the efficiency of the movement.

Your golf swing generates power through a series of rotation and resistance movements during the backswing. As your shoulders and upper body turn through the backswing (rotation), your lower body, specifically your hips, builds a resistance against the upper body rotation.

Once you are at the top of the backswing you have essentially coiled the body up into a loaded spring that is ready to release with speed as you go through the downswing motion, through the impact area and into the follow through position.

Pressure points of the golf swing

The rotation and resistance of power generation put certain areas of the body under a great deal of pressure as you make your golf swing. The two main areas at risk of pressure overload are the hips and lower back.

Overloading the muscles and joints that support the hips and lower back can increase the risk of injury and, because the golf swing is a repetitive motion, consistently overloading these pressure points is the main reason why we hear golfers of all ages and abilities complain of lower back pain.

The importance of golf posture

The foundation of any good golf swing is built through the posture of the body as you stand to the ball. Maintaining good posture through the golf swing will not only help you to play better golf more consistently but will also limit the levels of pressure you place on the muscles supporting your hips and lower back.

Whilst many golfers are able to recreate good posture as they set up to the ball, a weakness or a lack of flexibility in the supporting muscle groups will cause posture to collapse at some stage of the swing.

As the body loses its posture, angles and positions of the entire golf swing change. These changes force the body to create compensatory movements that are likely to increase pressure on areas of the lower back and hips.

Ensuring that your core muscles are strong enough and flexible enough to withstand the pressures of your golf swing will help you to maintain your posture, which in turn limits the risks and effects of an injury.

Able to withstand the pressure

As we have now identified the main reasons why golfers are likely to experience back pain, we need to take some measures that will help you to not only relieve the pain you may feel now but also to prevent the pain from becoming a recurring incident.

As a senior golfer, you accept that your body is unable to perform as it once did. Most likely you will experience a loss of physical power and feel that your muscles are stiffer before and after you play golf.

Whilst it is natural to experience strength and flexibility restrictions as we age, it does not mean that these restrictions should have any effect on the way we play golf. By incorporating some simple strength and flexibility exercises into your daily routine you ensure that your general fitness remains conditioned to withstand the repetitive pressures of the golf swing.

Core muscles conditioning exercises

Focusing on the condition of your core muscles will help you to play pain-free, consistent golf. Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine, either first thing in the morning or before you play golf will help you to strengthen the supportive back and hip muscle groups whilst increasing your range of flexibility.

These exercises are designed specifically for golfers who suffer from back pain and are ideal for those who are looking to prevent injury occurring.

Laid back bicycle

Purpose – To warm your core muscles up in preparation for stretching. To get the most of the stretching muscles must be warmed.

Target muscles – Lower-back, front hips, abdominal’s.
Starting position – Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift both legs up and bend your knees until your shins become parallel to the ground.

The motion – Begin to rotate your legs as you would when riding a bicycle, trying to extend each leg in a wide circular motion.

Repetitions – Aim to work this motion for 20 seconds, increasing the time as your endurance and conditioning improve.

What you will feel – Your abdominals will immediately engage and you will feel the muscles at the front of your hips begin to pull.

Laid back bridge

Purpose – To strengthen the front core muscles and lower back

Starting position – Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your arms to each side with the palms of your hands facing down.

The motion – Keeping your head still and shoulders fixed to the ground, lift your bottom off the ground as your hips rise to the ceiling. Hold the position for 2-3 seconds before returning your bottom back to the starting position.

Repetitions – Aim to repeat 7-10 times at first, increasing both the number of repetitions as your endurance and conditioning improves.

What you will feel – Your lower-back muscles and glutes (buttocks) engage as you hold the position at the top of each repetition.

Hip release stretch

Purpose – To stretch the hip muscles aiding the range of forward hip movement.

Starting Position – Lift the sole of your right foot onto a chair whilst keeping your back straight and left leg in line with your spine.

The motion – Lean your body weight forward as you bend your right knee. Try to keep your spine upright and your chin held high. As your bodyweight moves forward you will feel the left front hip muscles stretch. Hold the stretch for 7-10 seconds before returning back to the starting position.

Repetitions – Repeat the motion up to 10 times with each leg, advancing deeper into the stretch as your muscles become more flexible.

What you will feel – As you go deep into the stretch your hip muscles will stretch and release. You may also begin to feel the lower back muscles stretch, which is a good sign that you are getting a deep stretch into the hips and spine supportive muscle groups.

Hip release rotations

Purpose – Similar to the hip release stretch above, hip muscles are stretched to aid the side and rotational hip movement.

Starting Position – Lift the sole of your right foot onto a chair whilst keeping your back straight and left leg in line with your spine.

The motion – Lean your body weight forward as you bend your right knee. Try to keep your spine upright and your chin held high.

As your body weight moves forward rotate your shoulders to the right (as you would during your back swing). When you feel the left front hips muscles stretch, hold the stretch for 7-10 seconds before returning back to the starting position.

When alternating between legs, your shoulder rotation shoulder towards the direction of the raised leg. For example, if your start with the left leg raised, as you move your body weight forward your shoulders should rotate to the left (as you would in the golf swing follow through).

Likewise, with the right leg raised in the starting position, your shoulders should rotate to the right (as you would in the golf back swing).

Repetitions – Repeat the motion up to 10 times with each leg, advancing deeper into the stretch as your muscles become more flexible.

What you will feel – The front of your hips will be stretched as you go deep into the stretch. As your shoulder rotate you will also stretch the side hip muscles and the top of your buttocks. This is a great all round hip mobility stretch.

In summary

As the golf swing builds power through rotation and resistance your core muscles are placed under pressure. Ensuring that your muscles are conditioned to withstand these pressures will help you to prevent injury.

Setting aside just 10 minutes of each day to go through these simple conditioning exercises will help you relieve and prevent some of the most common lower back aches and pains senior golfers experience.

As always if you have any comments or feedback regarding this article Back Pain and Senior Golfers please do not hesitate to leave a comment below, I will be glad to respond to any responses received.

Happy golfing.
Michael Bogeys to Birdies Golf Tips for the Senior Golfer

Credit for this article goes to Daniel Hemingway of Fairweather Green – here is a link to Daniel’s website about other remedies for back pain for golfers : CLICK HERE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *