Does your back hurt when you play golf? You don’t have to be in great shape to get on the links, but fitness is a huge advantage to your game. And will help you prevent back injury.

Think of Tiger Woods, who before dominating the celebrity gossip pages, dominated the pro circuit for many years and rarely took time off for injury. He used a mixture of weight training, endurance exercise and flexibility workouts to stay in tip-top shape.

Back pain is very common — affecting an estimated 60 to 80 per cent of the population at some point in their lives. When it already exists, it can be aggravated by the repetitive movements of the golf swing, and in some cases it can be caused by golf.


“Back pain will be exacerbated on golfers who are overweight, with poor flexibility, weak core strength and poor stabilization of the spine,” says Patrick Handfield, president of Action Sport Physio Centre Ville and also a senior advisor to Cirque du Soleil in Montreal.

As you age, your joints become stiffer and the disks in your back become weaker with less absorption. Handfield suggests you bend your knees when you pick up your ball from the hole or set up your tee.

Besides developing a higher level of fitness, Handfield and other physiotherapists across Canada also suggest you warm up before playing.

Steve Mah, a physiotherapist and owner of Oakridge Physiotherapy in Vancouver, B.C., recommends dynamic stretching involving repetitive movement. For instance, swing a golf club back and forth.

“This is likened to warming up a car when you first start it on a cold morning,” says Mah.

Kelly Parr, a physiotherapist at The Sports Medicine Specialists in Toronto, recommends warming up your back using side bends. After playing, he suggests static stretching, where you hold each pose for 30 seconds. This allows the body to maintain muscle flexibility following activity and reduces the degree of post-exercise stiffness the next day. Back pain and repetitive stress injuries can often be attributed to poor golf technique or biomechanics.

“For novice golfers and even experienced golfers, it is advisable to have your golf swing assessed to detect abnormalities that can be corrected to prevent potential injuries,” says Mah.

If you have back pain that lasts more than three days, you should see a physiotherapist or physician, he adds.

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