Home / Physiotherapy Blog / News / Gearing up for Golf
By Melanie Konje, Registered Physiotherapist, RCAMT, MCPA

Okay all you golf dreamers, it’s time to stop tormenting your house pets with your indoor practice

Golf season is nigh and the ground frost will be all but a distant memory soon. All that planning and dreaming over these winter months – and the new clubs you got from Santa – can soon be put into practice on the real thing! Your vast green wonderland of peace and tranquility awaits.

The key to a successful season is different for each golfer but actively caring for your physical health, will give you the best chances to achieve success.

Most golfers take more than 90 strokes – plus one or two extra practice swings for each stroke. It adds up – not only the tally on the scorecard but also the toll on your body during the round from taking all those hacks – I mean swings.

Mark Sharpe, C.P.G.A. Professional and Director of Golf at Pheasant Run Golf Course, says, “Be concerned for your general health and fitness. What you eat and how you exercise is all a collective part of performance in playing golf – and being comfortable on the golf course.”

There are a few key things to remember on the course. Do take a few minutes to do a full body warm-up (stretches and a brisk walk) before hitting your first ball. This is especially important in cooler weather. It’s also important to stay loose throughout the round.

If you are walking the course, make sure that your carry bag is properly fit to your body (your local CPGA pro can help). Adjust the two shoulder straps so that the bag’s weight is borne not only by your shoulders but also by your hips – the bag should rest just below the small of your back. This will help you avoid undue stress on your lower back, neck and shoulders – before you even take a swing.

The golf swing itself can be a recipe for back pain and injury. Even the touring pros sometimes develop back injuries on the driving range or on the course, and they’ve got better swings than we do. That means it’s even more important for amateur golfers to develop sound swing technique and exercise regime to help avoid injury.

Be mindful that among the many body parts involved in the golf swing, the lower back is at particular risk. This risk increases for golfers who don’t have much flexibility in their mid-back (thoracic spine) or in their hips (or both).

Clinically speaking, the golf swing is essentially the torquing of the upper body against the lower body. This action puts a tremendous level of stress on the intervertebral discs in your lower back. While this torquing action does help you hit the ball a long way, the tremendous stress of this action on the lower back – during a singular instance or spread over the course of hundreds of swings – can cause painful or even debilitating injury to a disc(s). Injuries range from tightness in the lower back (golfers who pop an Advil at the 10th hole!) all the way to herniations and sprains (golfers who can’t stand up straight).

The good news is that injuries to your lower back are preventable. In addition to appropriate stretching and core-strengthening regimens, a good way to protect your back is to pull your navel in towards your spine while you swing and keep your lower back in a ‘neutral’ position by bending at your hips.

If you have suffered an injury playing golf, there’s more good news – it’s treatable and there’s no need to suffer long term. There’s professional help available. The earlier a pain syndrome or injury is correctly diagnosed and treated, often the quicker the recovery – and the sooner you’ll be enjoying your time on the golf course.

Your local CPGA pro can help you prevent injury to your scorecard. And your local Registered Physiotherapist can help you prevent – and recover from – pain and injury to your body, keeping you out on the course.

Actively care for your physical health this year. You’ll give yourself the best chance for success on and off the golf course.