Although golf is perceived as a low impact sport which many people participate in as a leisure activity, the golf swing surprisingly produces compressive loads of up to eight times a person’s body weight. This in conjunction with poor biomechanics, the type of swing a player uses and the fact that the game is most popular amongst older individuals, who may already have degenerative changes present within the spine, it is little wonder that lower back injuries are the most common amongst the amateur golfer.
Although the golf swing is a complex series of movements and each individual will have their own unique swing, there are predominantly two swing models in which a players swing may be based off of, these are the ‘classic swing’ and the ‘modern swing’. The classic swing is characterised by a large upper body rotation accompanied by a large pelvic rotation during both the back and downswing phases of the movement and end with the whole body facing the target with a relatively straight back. In contrast, the modern swing exhibits a complete shoulder turn that is similar to that of the classic swing. However, the pelvis does not turn during the swing and remains facing the ball. The downswing is then initiated via the hips, and results in the body finishing in a ‘reverse C’ position at the end of the follow through.
Although the modern swing has become the preferred swing for today’s golfers, due to its increased power, distance and elevated ball flight during play, it does however take a greater toll on the body. Due to the biomechanics of the swing it produces an increased amount of torque between the upper and lower body, resulting in elevated stress through the lower back. The eventual follow through position, the ‘Reverse C’, also puts excessive loads through the right hand facet joints, for a right hander, due to the combination of hyper extension and lateral flexion of the lower back.
So what can you do if you are suffering from lower back pain during your golf swing? Good posture and spinal mobility are essential elements of the management and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, this along with investigation into muscle activation patterns and the strength and stability of under-performing muscles by your Myotherapist or health care professional will go a long way into improving your pain and dysfunction. It may also be beneficial to have your swing assessed, and modifications made in order to offload specific joints which are causing discomfort, hopefully without sacrificing too much power and distance.
If your golf swing is causing you pain, speak to your Myotherapist about what we can do to help.