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Back Pain in Golf

Posted on 7th October 2019 by

Every year, the charity dedicated to supporting and helping people with back pain, BackCare, dedicates a week to highlighting a specific area of back pain. For 2019, the focus is on back pain in golfers.

Back pain in golf

There is a distinct lack of awareness regarding the prevention of back related injuries among golfers which hinder their play and performance in the sport.

Golf is a leisure sport enjoyed by more than 60 million people of all ages across the world and has reached the 4 million mark in the UK alone. It has many health and well-being benefits. It is widely known that a typical 18-hole-round amounts to 6-8 km of walking requiring 8000 to 12000 steps and a significant calorie burn.

You might be surprised to hear that more injuries occur in golf than in rugby! Golf with other leisure sports have an injury rate of 1.8 per thousand persons per year as opposed to 1.5 per thousand persons per year in rugby and other team sports according to the National Centre for Health Statistics.

What are the most common golfing injuries?

Low back injuries are the most common complaint from golfers. They account for 15.2% to 34% of all golf injuries, followed by injuries to the elbow (7% to 27%), shoulder (4% to 19%) and wrist 10%. Golf is a repetitive sport – With an average of 300 swings per golf-playing-day. So the type of injuries a golfer often picks up are overuse injuries.

How common are golf injuries?

Between 15.8% to 40.9% of amateur golfers report an injury (or injuries) every year; among professionals, the incidence ranges between 31% to 90% annually.

How does the swing affect the back?

Back problems are mainly attributed to how the golf swing of present-day professionals, such as Tiger Woods (the ‘modern swing’/‘the X-factor swing’) differs from that of golf legends like Jack Nicklaus (‘classic swing’). The modern swing is more powerful and exerts a greater compressive force toward the anatomy of the spine, which can be a contributory factor in back issues.

‘A long swing with passive wrists and light grip pressure can prevent back issues’ – US Golfer Phil Mickelson. At 45, Mickelson has played without any of the serious back pain unlike most of the major champions like Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. Back injuries have sidelined the careers of former champions Tiger Woods and Fred Couples several times!

Want to know more about preventing back pain in golf, here’s a great little fact sheet ‘Swing Clever‘ that highlights the different factors associated with the classic and modern swing.

If back pain or any other injury is stopping you from enjoying your golf, then do get in touch. Our team can help!