Back pain is the worst!
Somewhere between 80-90% of Americans experience a bout of back pain at some point in their life. Now if we’re talking about golfers, around 35% of golf injuries are related to the back (Finn, 2013). With the average bout of back pain lasting anywhere between 1-6 weeks. That’s a lot of time without being able to play golf! Which is why I want to show you 5 golf back pain exercises that I think will help you right now.
Now in general, there can be many factors that contribute to someone’s back pain. In fact, way too many to go over in this article. However, when it comes to golf, most golfers report their back pain that has been building over time rather than one specific incident causing the issue.
Without going too much into detail, the typical causes of back pain in the golfer include spinal muscle strain, spinal joint irritation, and sometimes spinal disc irritation (Finn, 2013). Some of the main reasons why golfers experience these issues is mainly due to the repetitive nature of the sport, poor swing mechanics, muscular imbalances, and limited mobility in the hips and mid-back.
The nature of this article isn’t to go into detail on the causes of back pain, but something I will probably write about in the future. This article is more about how you can start to help yourself right now if you’re experiencing pain and/or want to reduce your risk of injuring your back and missing time on the course.
Let’s get into the golf back pain exercises that I think you should be doing! Or you can watch the video on the same exercises at the bottom of the article.
5 Simple Golf Back Pain Exercises
The first exercise is called cobra, well because when you’re doing it you look somewhat like a cobra who is ready to attack. Cleverly named, I know, but don’t give me credit.
This exercise is designed to help you improve your spine’s ability to bend backwards. I personally believe that we don’t spend a lot of time going in this direction during the day, as we mainly spend our time primarily sitting. If you sit a majority of the day, this is a great exercise for you to do at least 1-2x/day if not more.
To perform this drill you lie down on your stomach and place your hands just outside of your shoulders. From there, you lift your head, chest, and stomach off the floor/bed using only your arms to create a backward bend in your spine. You should keep your back, butt, and leg muscles completely relaxed during the exercise. You might even feel that this is more of an arm exercise, which means you’re doing it right! I would aim to get anywhere between 8-15 reps at a time.
You may have done or seen this exercise at some point in your life. This is a great way to begin to learn how to move your spine collectively into a forward bend and backward bend at the same. A lot of times we have difficulty being able to move our spine together in this manner, and this position allows us to easily achieve that.
To perform this exercise, you will be on your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. You spine should be in a relatively straight position at this point. From there you’re going to round your back as far as you can. You should look like there is a huge hump in the middle of your back and you should be pushing the ground with your hands. You should also be looking down towards the ground with your head. Then you’re going to reverse the motion by creating a an arch in your back. You should let your stomach dip down towards the ground and even feel like your shoulder blades are squeezing together. At this point, your head should be looking up towards the ceiling. You’re going to alternate between these two positions 8-15x. You should do this drill 1-2x/day.
This drill is great because it works on so much at one time. It works on core stability, hip stability, and shoulder stability all at the same time.
For this drill, you want to be on your hands and knees and in the same start position as the Cat-Cow exercise. From there you will lift opposite arm and leg. Don’t worry about how high you lift your arm and leg, but think more about reaching them away from your body. This will allow you to maintain your balance and not rotate. As the overall goal of this exercise to keep a neutral spine and not twist or rotate. I always tell clients to imagine you had a tray of food on your back and do not let it spill! You’d want to perform 8-12 reps on each side 1-2x/day.
This drill is to help you work on your glute strength, extending your spine, and core stability. All in a very safe position.
Start on back with your hands by sides and knees bent up comfortably. Squeeze your butt cheeks together and lift your hips up from the ground. Then, you can slowly lower yourself back down to the ground. During this exercise you may “feel it” in 3 different places: your butt, your low back, and the back of your thighs (hamstrings). It’s okay if you feel it in those 3 areas, but I want you to mainly feel it in your butt. If you feel it mainly in your low back or hamstrings, I want you to really focus on squeezing your butt cheeks together before you lift your hips. Perform 8-12 reps for 1-2x/day.
Short-Lever Side Plank
This is another great drill that works on core, hip, and shoulder stability. All of which are required for the golf swing!
For this drill begin on your side with your knees and ankles stacked on each other. Bend your knees so they make a right angle. Your trunk and thighs should be in a straight line if you looked down towards your knees. Place the elbow that’s on the ground directly under your shoulder. From there you’re going to lift your hips/pelvis up off the the ground. You can hold it once your up or you slowly return back down towards the ground. You should mainly feel this in the side of the hip on the side that’s closest to the ground. Perform 8-12 reps for 1-2x/day on each side. This can be bothersome on the shoulder, so if you have shoulder issues you can reach out to me (contact below) for an alternative.
Start These Golf Back Pain Exercises Now
If you’re experiencing back pain, I would try these drills as best as you can now to see if they can be helpful. Without knowing your background and current issues, they may all work, some may work, and none of them may work. If none of them work, you would like an alternative to any of the drills above, or you have questions about the drills, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you within 24 hours.
If you’d like to work with me to help improve your pain and/or golf performance, please reach out to me at the email noted in the above paragraph or you can schedule a free 30 minute phone call with me at this link HERE. That way we can chat more about your specific situation and the best plan to help you move forward.
I hope that that these golf back pain exercises have been helpful and if you want to see the drills in action please watch the video below.
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