We all love the game of golf, but there is one common side effect that we don’t love so much, and that is back pain. According to this research, lower back pain is the most common injury associated with golf.
As you can see, the violent motion of the golf swing does put a lot of strain on the lower back, but you can deal with this relatively easily. The study found that the best way to prevent lower back problems was to strengthen your core and back through a series of exercises. When these muscles are stronger, they can do a better job of protecting your spine from injury. So, let’s look at five exercises for golfers that can help to prevent back pain.
1. Forward Lunges
This is a very simple exercise that simulates walking with large steps. It is one of the best lower-body exercises out there. Being a compound exercise, it strengthens a large number of different muscle groups. Although it puts a lot of strain on your legs and glutes, it also does a great job of working the lower back and the lower abs.
To do this exercise, stand normally and then take a giant step forward. Bend the front knee as you lower your entire body, keeping a smooth and steady motion. There are a few points to remember here.
For one thing, make sure you go down far enough. Your trailing knee should almost touch the floor, but not quite. You back should remain straight the entire time, and your hands should stay at your sides so that you can’t use them to cheat. Swinging the arms creates momentum and makes the exercise easier, which isn’t what we want.
Planking is an exercise that is quickly replacing the sit-up as the abdominal exercise of choice. Sit-ups, while effective, have proven to be very hard on the lower back. Planking couldn’t be simpler. You just take a push-up position and hold it. You don’t have to dip down and do any push-ups, you simply get in the ready position and hold for 30 seconds to one minute at a time.
When doing these, make sure that you keep your whole body as straight as possible. Any bend in your form will take the stress away from the abs, and that’s not good. We are trying to work the abs, so don’t cheat by dipping your back. It is also important to look straight ahead as you hold the plank so that you preserve the proper alignment of the spine.
3. Bird Dogs
This is an easy exercise that focuses on the lower back. To perform it, you get on your hands and knees. Then, you extend one leg and one arm at the same time. Extend them all the way out and hold the position for a few seconds before returning to the start position. Make sure you use opposite arms and legs: In other words, the right leg goes with the left arm and vice versa. If you don’t do this, it will be much harder to maintain your balance.
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There are several variations of this exercise, but proper technique is essential for all of them. One good trick is to place a book or magazine on your back so that you can force yourself to maintain perfect spinal alignment. Some people also recommend that you imagine a string or a metal pole running through your head and spine. It might be a little disturbing to imagine yourself as a human kebab, but it should help you keep your back straight.
4. Back Extensions
This exercise normally requires the use of a medicine ball, although you can do it without one. The back extension is a great way to improve the strength of the lower back and glutes, which are exactly the muscles that we will use the most when swinging a golf club. There are a few versions of this exercise, but we have chosen to focus on a medicine ball extension with a rotation at the end.
Place your feet against the wall and place the medicine ball under your belly. Extend your legs fully so that you are up on your toes. Now take a stick (about three feet long) and hold it behind your head. This keeps your arms from doing any of the work. (note: not everyone uses the stick) With each rep, you dip your head forward, letting your body curl downward until you reach a point where it’s hard to keep your balance. Lift back up and return to the starting position with a slight twist of the trunk. Make sure not to over-do it on that part.
5. Bridging Leg Lifts
This is another core exercise that is being used to fill the role of the sit-up. Rather than focusing on one area, this one will strengthen your entire core area, making it a time-efficient way to prevent injury and increase overall body strength. Start by laying down as if you were going to do a sit-up. Instead, arch your back into a bridge position. From here, you lift one leg straight up and hold it for a few seconds. Lower the leg slowly and repeat with the other one. Make sure that the extended leg forms a straight line with the rest of the body, or else you aren’t doing it right.
While golf might not be a rough-and-tumble sport, it does involve a significant amount of physical exertion. As such, injury can be the result for those who are not adequately prepared. Doing these five exercises daily would be ideal, but that may not always be possible due to time constraints. At the bare minimum, though, you should always do these exercises as a warm-up before golfing.
We would also like to mention the importance of stretching and to caution you that any exercise routine should begin with 5-10 minutes of full-body stretching. If you have enjoyed this article, please follow us on Facebook so that you can see more of our work.