5 Golf Exercises to Help Decrease Your Back Pain

5 Golf Exercises to Help Decrease Your Back Pain



Many golfers experience back pain, specifically, lower back pain. However, most of these golfers are also missing out on incorporating golf exercises into their regular routines. These exercises are incredibly helpful and effective in managing or even eliminating lower back pain during and after your rounds of golf.

Is Lower Back Pain Normal?

Low back pain in golfers is extremely common. In fact, it has almost become accepted as a “normal” part of the game. Most golf locker rooms have large bottles or packs of Advil, Aleve and Tylenol sitting on the shelf right next to the sun screen as a regular part of a pre-round routine.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Golf should be fun; an enjoyable, recreational activity and a competitive outlet. There are very few things in life that we do for fun that involve regular pain. 

Why is Back Pain So Common in Golf?

The Titleist Performance Institute (mytpi.com) studies the relationship between the golf swing and the body. They also collect injury data on golfers of all ages and ability levels. For right handed golfers, about 72% of players will deal with right sided low back pain. This is from a combination of poor rotational ability in your hips and thoracic spine, decreased ability to maintain posture, and a common swing characteristic that puts more strain on the right side of your lower back.

Warming Up

First and foremost, we believe it is extremely important to warm up before your round of golf. You are going to be doing physical activity for potentially 2-4+ hours, and your body needs to get prepared as such!

If you’re looking for a great golf warmup, we have a free Golf Active Warmup download that can not only prepare you for a great round, but also decrease your likelihood of injury by 50% while increasing your clubhead speed by 1.5mph when used consistently! It’s simple and easy to follow for golfers of all levels.

Golf Exercises for the Low Back

In this article, we are going to focus on golf exercises that help you maintain posture during your swing and rotate better to decrease the stress and strain on your lower back. 

Hip Mobility

One of the leading risk factors for low back pain in golfers is decreased hip mobility, and specifically, hip internal rotation. Hip internal rotation is crucial to load into your trail hip in the back swing and then clear your pelvis and get through your lead hip in the downswing. Often, hip internal rotation is lost as you age and can be a major contributor to low back pain. 

First, we want to try a passive exercise to open up your hips, such as the Posterior Hip Capsule Stretch.

This is a great passive exercise to try to help create space in the back of your hips to allow hip internal rotation. As you are doing this, make sure you feel a stretch in the back of your hip and not a pinch in your groin. 

After a passive stretch, we want to improve your active control over that range of motion. A simple drill to start with is Hip 90/90 Internal Rotation

The combination of these two exercises is a great way to start getting your hips moving!

Thoracic Spine Rotation

The next area we want to free up to rotate better is your thoracic spine (T-spine). This is essentially the middle of your rib cage and upper trunk. It is a section of your back that is designed to rotate and side bend, which are key motions in your golf swing. Limitations in this area will force your low back to rotate more and put more stress on the lower back.

To start increasing some passive mobility in your thoracic spine, I like the T-spine Open Book exercise

Incorporate breathing into this drill and try to relax and allow your shoulder (not just your hand) to fall closer to the ground. 

After the passive stretch, we want to improve our active control over the rotation through our upper trunk. Try a Split Stance Rotational Row.

In this drill, the split stance helps lock in and stabilize your lower body as you control rotation through your upper trunk and thoracic spine. Try to feel like you are getting as much separation as possible between your belt buckle and the middle of your chest. 

Maintain Your Posture

One of the most common swing characteristics in amateur golfers is a loss of posture or early extension. Essentially, during your downswing, rather than keeping your hips back and creating space to rotate through the golf ball at impact, your hips start to drift forward toward the golf ball, reducing space. This leads to a variety of poor shots, poor impact positions, and increased stress on your low back. 

Physically, one of the major reasons we see golfers struggle with loss of posture is an inability to shift their weight backwards.  

Essentially, when you bend down to touch your toes, we want to see your hips move behind you to help balance your weight through your legs and hips and not your lower back. Oftentimes, players dealing with back pain have lost this ability and their hips stay right in line with their heels with more backwards weight shift.  

To work on this, we recommend a Toes Elevated Toe Touch.

Essentially, we are helping your body shift backwards by elevating your toes and pushing your hips toward the wall behind you. It is a great drill to feel the backward weight shift and restore this movement pattern. We call this movement a hip hinge. 

The hip hinge in golf is crucial to the golf swing for several reasons. First, it helps you maintain your posture as you rotate, which will allow you to have the space to return your hands and the club back to the ball and make solid contact. If your hips move closer to the ball as you rotate, you will have to compensate with back movement and hand path to make contact with the ball.  Additionally, the hip hinge pattern is one of the key power generators of the golf swing. The ability to hold your hips back as you rotate will allow you to explode and generate power from your lower half through impact for improved club head speed.

Put an End to Golfing with Back Pain

If you are one of the 72% of golfers that deal with regular back pain during or after your round, don’t panic and don’t give up the sport. Your body is resilient and it is possible to play without pain. 

Give these 5 golf exercises a try and you’ll be on your way to skipping the pre-round advil! 

Are you a golfer that is dealing with low back pain? At Kinetic Sports Medicine and Performance, we help golfers move better to manage pain and improve performance. You can learn more about our philosophy with golfers or schedule a free consultation today to see how we can get you golfing pain free and adding distance to your drives!

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