We’ve all been there.
You’re preparing for another day out on the links. The weather’s crisp and clear. The course is one you’re excited to play. There’s just one problem: Your back is killing you.
Perhaps it’s a dull ache in your muscles. Maybe it’s a sharp jolt that leaves you gasping for breath. Either way, you’re experiencing lower back pain: an ailment that affects about 80% of U.S. adults, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
You’ve also fallen prey to a major culprit behind terrible golf swings.
What is Lower Back Pain?
What exactly is going on that puts your golf swing in such jeopardy?
Your lower back (also known as your lumbar region) is a tangle of vertebrae, discs, muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and nerves. It’s a part of the body we use every day, which makes it prone to strain.
There are two major types of lower back pain:
- acute back pain, which typically results from a sudden muscle injury and lasts a few days; and
- chronic back pain, which can last for months and sometimes indicates a more serious injury.
In most cases, lower back pain is a common condition that goes away with time.
Keep Your Swing in Shape
But for golfers (especially the pros), there’s often little time to rest. Which means being proactive about lower back health is critical to keeping your swing in the best possible shape.
Here are five easy tips any golfer can follow to reduce and prevent lower back pain when they swing.
Tip 1: Practice Perfect Posture
Often times, lower back pain in a swing comes from poor posture, which stresses your back’s muscles and vertebrae. Poor posture not only destroys any hope of a pain-free swing, it can also keep you from playing with confidence in the future.
MyTPI.com lists several ways golfers can use posture as a defense against back pain.
- Maintain a neutral spine to stabilize your lumbar region, and avoid excessively extending your spine halfway through your backswing.
- Swing with a level pelvis or with your lead hip slightly higher than your trail hip, which can prevent your spine from tilting toward the target at the top of your swing.
- Exaggerate a forward ball position, which shifts your weight forward (not backward) during your downswing and reduces right-side bend.
Tip 2: Swing and Swing Again
Great golf swings aren’t the result of dumb luck. They depend on practice. And a good golf swing is one of the secrets to a pain-free golf swing.
What makes for a swing that’s fast enough to get the ball where you want it to go—but that’s safe enough for all the torque and torsion that hits your lower back?
- Aim for a swing that’s smooth, rhythmic, and confident.
- Stay balanced, with your weight on the balls of your feet.
- Stabilize your muscles through the entire rotation of your swing.
- Take time to learn from a pro golfer (especially if you’re a beginner).
Tip 3: Nutrients Matter
Proper nutrition involves more than just carbohydrates and water. You need to make sure you get the right nutrients to stay sharp while you play—and to dodge soreness when you’re done.
One supplement recommended by the pros, including PGA Champion Jason Day, is swingOIL. Formulated by golfers for golfers, swingOIL is a supplement drink that blends seven key nutrients to meet the specific needs of golfers.
- Glucosamine (for healthier joints)
- Chondroitin (an anti-arthritic)
- Turmeric (an anti-inflammatory)
- Taurine (for lower blood pressure)
- Rhodiola Rosea Extract (for stress relief)
- Citrulline Malate (for quicker recovery)
- Ginseng Extract (for improved concentration and energy)
Recommended by over 55 Champions Tour Players and Sports Illustrated, swingOIL is a quick, easy way for you to get the nutrition essential to a great swing.
Tip 4: Exercise Your Muscles
Stretching can often feel like a nuisance. But it matters.
The NIH recommends 30 minutes of low-impact exercise—such as swimming, yoga, or speed walking—to increase the strength and flexibility of your abdomen and lower back.
Even if you’re pressed for time, there are still quick stretches that can keep you at the top of your game. The Mayo Clinic suggests
- cat stretches, in which you repeatedly arch your back while on your hands and knees;
- seated rotational stretches, in which you twist your lower back while on an armless chair; and
- bridge exercises, which require you to raise your hips up and down while on the floor.
Tip 5: Recover, Recover, Recover
Recovery is just as important as the game itself. It’s essential to repairing the muscles and joints you use every time you swing a club.
Here are a few common recovery activities recommended to golfers.
- Sleep. You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s still true. Seven to eight hours of good sleep every night does a world of good for your body and mind. You’ll be better equipped to play—and to remember things like posture and rotation in your golf swing.
- Massage. Say goodbye to muscle soreness and inflammation with a concentrated massage of your tired muscles—not just those in your lower back but in your shoulders, arms, legs, and neck. It takes the physical strain off a long game. It feels pretty great, too.
- Temperature therapy. Cold-water plunges. Steam rooms. Ice packs. Hot tubs. These are just a few of the many hot/cold therapy techniques that, either alone or in combination, can help stave off muscle soreness and inflammation. Experiment to see which methods work best for you.
Get Out There and Swing Your Best
So if you’re worried about that pesky sore back ruining your swing, remember these five tips the next time you get ready to swing.
You may find yourself grinning with success instead of wincing with pain.