Don’t Cut Your Golf Season Short with a Back Injury
By Joseph C. Maroon, MD & Jeffrey Bost, PA-C
Golf is a very popular sport at almost any age with both perceived and real health benefits. These include enhanced muscle and joint flexibility, cardiovascular improvements, soaking up bone strengthening vitamin D and socializing with friends and associates. In fact one study from 2015 found that golfers lived on average about 5 years longer than 300,000 age matched non-golfers. Even though there are major health benefits there are certain injury risks that may diminish enjoyment of the game. One of the most prevalent is low back pain.
Low back pain affects golfers at all ages and skill levels and accounts for approximately 24% of all golf injuries. The incidence rates vary between 18% and as high as 54%. Indeed, injury to the low back represents the most common musculoskeletal complaint experienced by both amateur and professional golfers.
Aggressive twisting during the golf swing produced compressive forces equivalent to eight times the body weight. This compares to runners who experience approximately three times spinal compressive forces than their body weight.
Every spring and summer we see several golfers with herniated discs, spinal stenosis as well as the more common back strain/sprain injuries. Awareness of such potential injuries should alert golfers to take several actions to mitigate these problems. These include avoiding improper lifting of golf bags and always bend at the knees when lifting or placing balls on a tee; warming up with light stretching exercises can significantly reduce injuries; using a driving range before a golf match with initially easy swings with large muscle groups of the upper and lower back can increase flexibility and diminish injuries. Finally proper hydration is essential before and during play as symptoms of dehydration can impair balance, skills and even lead to accidental falls. Use these helpful tips to help avoid season ending injuries to keep you in the game!