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Golf - Part 5: Modifying the Golf Swing for Low Back Pain

Low back pain is the most common injury that golfers sustain.  The golf swing creates significant compression, shearing, rotation and side-bending forces in the spine and this is repeated many times during a round of golf.

The “modern” golf swing creates more torsional load on the spine in order to create more power.  The power is produced by keeping the hips more still during the backswing. This increases the hip-shoulder separation angle, increases the stretch so that the elastic recoil of these tissues creates more speed when the club comes down to make impact with the ball.  The “modern” golf swing also ends with the spine in a “reverse C” position.  This motion requires a side flexion and an exaggerated backwards arch of the spine – both positions create compression in the spine.  Returning to a more classic swing has the golfer’s hips and shoulders rotating together, reducing the hip shoulder separation angle and reducing the torque on the lumbar spine.  Shortening the backswing also reduces the forces on the spine.  I would encourage recreational golfers to not mimic our young professional golf role models and accept a little less distance for longevity in the sport.  Jack Nicklaus continued to compete on a limited basis until age 65.  There is something to be said for the classic golf swing – especially for us recreational players.

Matt Seltzer