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The 5 ticking time bombs that cause back pain in golf.

golf Jul 19, 2017

Did you know that one third of golfers currently have or previously experienced lower back pain while playing golf.

Does this surprise you? So common is it, as I write this i’ve just finished treating a golfer with low back pain.


Maybe you subscribe to the idea that golf is a leisurely sport which is perfectly suitable for the middle aged and somewhat out of shape. Well I’m going to convince you to dispel that belief as false. There are IN FACT a large number of risk factors for lower back pain amongst other injuries such as golfer’s elbow and knee pain that are associated specifically with golf, that are not necessarily true for any other sport. At the Injury Rehab Centre our Physiotherapists and Osteopaths look after many golfing patients from the Cheltenham, Moorabbin, Mentone, Highett, Hampton, Black Rock, Beaumaris and Heatherton suburbs in relation to low back pain, golfer’s elbow and knee pain, just to name a few.

The ticking time bombs…

1. Golf is NOT in fact a low impact activity. Recent research demonstrated that spinal compressive and shear forces experienced throughout the golf swing reach up to 8 x Body Weight (BW) in both professional and amateur golfers. To give this fact some context, running has been measured as approximately 3 x BW! Who would have thought that the act of swinging a golf club is higher in impact than running.

2. Golfers DON’T look after their bodies. Historically, golf has been considered a sport where training only referred to hitting more golf balls on the practice fairway or green, followed by a couple of 7 oz’s in the club house. Case in point, look back to 20 years ago, the majority of professional golfers were not undertaking any additional strengthening and conditioning training at all save for the great Gary Player. There was a belief that incorporating strength training would lead to bulkier bodies and reduced flexibility; therefore negatively affecting golfing performance.

3. Golf is a ONE SIDED sport. We practice our swing over and over, but always on the same side. This means that certain muscles, more than others develop accordingly which creates a huge potential for strength and endurance imbalances, especially through the trunk and spine! In addition to this, it means your spinal joints are always being stretched and compressed in the same ways creating an increased possibility for repetitive stress and irritation to occur.

4. Golfers usually do HUGE volumes. If a golfer plays 3 x per week, hits a bucket of balls before each round and takes 2-3 practice swings before each shot it could easily add up to over 1000 full swings per week!! So not only is it one sided but it is performed in huge repetition. Numbers well and above any that would be recommended in any exercise and training environment!

5. Golf is a sport that is played for an entire lifetime! It is not unusual to play with an old-timer at your local club who is in their 60’s and reports having been a member at said club for over 50 years! Unlike many other sports such as Soccer or Australian Football where it would be unusual not the norm to continue playing after the age of say 35. This creates more potential for increased over-use type irritations occurring in spinal joints which have seen a lifetime of use and now may not have the same level of muscular stability due to natural age related declines.

In summary

  • Golf Is High Impact!
  • There is lack of belief in strength, conditioning and injury prevention!
  • It is a ONE sided sport!
  • It is often practiced in huge volumes >1000 swings per week!
  • Is played for an entire lifetime and often well past our physical prime!

Considering the above, it is imperative that you consider undertaking golf specific strength & conditioning to help resolve any current issues or be pro-active and prevent injury. Here at the Injury Rehab Centre, we have a keen interest in helping golfers play their best, increasing their capacity and reducing injury risk.

What can the Physiotherapists and Osteopaths at the Injury Rehab Centre Cheltenham do for you? 

At the Injury Rehab Centre we specialise in assessment and collecting actionable data using the latest technology previously only found in elite sporting institutions particularly in understanding (relate to blog post). We do this using the latest assessment technology usually only found in elite golfing academies including:

  • M.A.T Assessment created by the therapists of the Injury Rehab Centre to laser focus on areas of flexibility, balance and movement that identify whether your are at risk to sustain a golfing injury.
  • Slow Motion Video Analysis to IDENTIFY YOUR BAD GOLFING HABITS and give us more insight into what part of your swing could be causing your golf related pain.
  • Strength Testing to identify any strength discrepancies that have a huge role in increasing your injury risk.
  • Force Plate Technology to put a number on differences in the power you can generate through each leg that can lead to compensations and can cause repetitive stress injuries.
  • Traditional Physiotherapy and Osteopathy examinations to identify dysfunction.

Next our treatment process achieves pain relief in the shortest amount of time by using hands on Physiotherapy and Osteopathy techniques such as soft tissue massage, joint manipulation, articulation and stretching techniques. This may include the use of the True Stretch system as well as Dry Needling and Taping techniques.

Finally your management plan will involve an individualised training plan to build your strength and capacity (muscle and tendon strength, stamina, specific flexibility) often to improve discrepancies from side to side that could be the true cause of of your golfing imbalances resulting in back pain or golfers elbow.

Don’t delay click here to book your free phone consultation with one of our golfing therapists to understand how the Injury Rehab Centre can help you today!

Good Luck and Happy Golfing!

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