At this point in the summer, many golfers have become accustomed to some aches and pains during or after a round. Kim Krob, DMOS Orthopaedic Centers physical therapist and Titleist certified Level 2 Medical Golf Fitness Instructor, has five tips to prevent golf-related pain all season long.
Check your posture.
Your stance when addressing the ball is crucial. Before you take that first swing, check your set-up posture. Your spine should be straight without rounded shoulders. A curved back, spine, and shoulders (sometimes called “C” or “S” posture) can lead to pain. “To ensure your back is straight, have someone take a picture as you address the ball,” said Krob. “Then try to draw a straight line along your spine. If your spine is curved, adjust your posture.” Hold a club vertically behind your back from your head to your tailbone. If your back is straight, the shaft should touch your body along the entire length of the club, so adjust your stance until it does. Then you can focus on hinging your hips down toward the ball without curving your back.
Focus on flexibility.
A common misconception is that you need to stretch your lower back before golfing. In reality, it’s more important to stretch your mid-back and hips. Since the lower back is designed for stability, stretching it can actually cause more harm than good.
Like many sports, core stability is important to your golf game. Your core is more than just the abdomen; it includes your back and gluteal muscles. By strengthening your entire core, you will be less likely to experience pain when golfing.
Limit range time.
It may be tempting to hit a bucket of balls before your round, but doing so can increase your chance of injury. At the driving range, think about how many times you use each club during a typical round, then limit your practice shots to that number. Also, schedule your driving range practice and golf games on separate days to help reduce the chance of pain due to overuse.
Analyze your swing.
If you are “coming up” or early extending at the top of your backswing, you will struggle to get back to the ball in a smooth plane without a swing fault. This can cause inconsistency and pain. The number one swing fault that leads to back pain is caused by over-utilizing the upper body. A “reverse spine angle” means you lean your head and shoulders toward the target at the top of your backswing. Right-handed golfers who do this will eventually have pain in the left low back.
To avoid it, initiate the swing sequence and power through the lower body.“ If you are currently experiencing pain while golfing, consider contacting your Titleist certified physical therapist for a screening,” said Krob. “Identifying and improving on your body’s physical limitations can help you avoid pain during and after your round.