Getting To The Root Of Your Back Pain
Low back pain can be a big problem for many people on the golf course, let alone everyday life. About 80% of people will experience an episode of low back pain at some point in their life (Rubin, 2007). The low back is the number one injured body part sustained by golfers, accounting for about 35% of injuries (Finn, 2013).
Now it may seem crazy to hear this, but your low back is typically the innocent bystander that ends up in pain and is most often not the actual cause of pain. Let me explain…
Rotational Centers in Golf
In the golf swing, there needs to be sufficient rotation in various parts of the body. Two of the main areas that need to have sufficient rotation include the hips and mid-back. If either of these two areas lack any ability to rotate, your body will make up for that rotation in another place. A lot of times, this happens to be your low back. Unfortunately, the low back is designed to stabilize and bend forward and backward. What the low back is not great at is rotating.
Now if you ask your low back to rotate here and there, that’s usually okay and doesn’t result in any issues. But when you’re rotating through your low back hundreds of times per week, whether that’s on the driving range or out on the course, you could imagine how that could eventually lead to a lot of stress on an area that’s not made for that kind of stress.
Improving Hip Internal Rotation
In this article, we’re going to go over ways to improve your hip internal rotation. Which has been correlated to be a cause of low back pain in golfers, especially if it’s limited on the lead side (Vad, 2004).
Before we get into solutions, just a quick review regarding hip internal rotation. You go into hip internal rotation two times during the golf swing. The first is on the trail side when you rotate into your backswing. The second is on the lead side when you’re finishing your swing and posting on that leg. An easy way to remember which hip is going into internal rotation is that you will rotate IN towards that side.
A 3-Step Process To Improve Your Hip Mobility
Get some muscles to relax
First, we’re going to get some muscles along the backside and side of the hip to relax. To do this, you can use a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, softball, or a foam roller to do this. Sit directly on the object of your choice or you can even sit slightly sideways to get some of the muscles on the side of the hip. Start move up and down and side to side until you find an area that is mild to moderately uncomfortable. Once you find that spot, keep rolling the ball on that spot or stay there for about a minute or two until it starts to loosen up. You can do this for 2-5 minutes. When doing this make sure that you’re only on muscles and not rolling on your bones!
Work the hip into internal rotation
Next, we’re going to take the hip through some easy internal rotation. You’re going to sit on the floor or your bed in a crab sitting position. Whichever side you’re working, you want to pull your foot up towards you and keep pulling it up throughout this drill to avoid any knee issues. You’re then going to move your hip into internal rotation and repeat. You want to go as far as you can tolerate with little or no discomfort and return to the start position. You want to do this for 1-2 minutes.
Activate your muscles into the new range of motion
Lastly, after working on improving mobility you need to work on maintaining it by actively working into the new range. Take a foam roller or pillow and lie on your side with the side you’re working on up towards the ceiling. From there, you’re going to squeeze the foam roller or pillow between your knees and lift your top ankle up towards the ceiling. Go nice and slow and do 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps.
If you experience any sharp or severe pain during these drills, please stop and feel free to reach out to me for help. Also, if you are not noticing any improvement after a week or so, I would recommend reaching out for some help as well. You can also try the drills from this article if you’re having low back pain.
If you have any questions about your low back pain, mobility, or what you can do this offseason to be better prepared for next season, I’m always happy to chat with you to help guide you to the best plan that’s customized just for you. Don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a call or in-person meeting.
If you want 9 free workouts specific for golf performance, you can grab them HERE!
You can watch a video HERE to go through this 3-step process with me!
Be on the lookout for part 2 where we’re going to go over improving your mid-back mobility!
Rubin DI. Epidemiology and risk factors for spine pain. Neurol Clin. 2007;25(2):353-371. doi:10.1016/j.ncl.2007.01.004
Finn C. Rehabilitation of low back pain in golfers: from diagnosis to return to sport. Sports Health. 2013;5(4):313-319. doi:10.1177/1941738113479893
Vad VB, Bhat AL, Basrai D, Gebeh A, Aspergren DD, Andrews JR. Low back pain in professional golfers: the role of associated hip and low back range-of-motion deficits. Am J Sports Med. 2004;32(2):494-497. doi:10.1177/0363546503261729