There are roughly 25 million Americans who play the game of golf for fun, exercise and socialization. With that many people playing the game, golf-specific injuries are inevitable, with the low back being the most common area of the body affected.
While there are many root causes of back ailments in the golf community, a measurable lack of hip mobility is one of the more common causes of low back pain and stiffness. Good hip mobility allows the pelvis to properly rotate in the swing and promotes efficient power transfer throughout the body. Poor rotational mobility in the hips may lead to excessive lower back motion throughout the swing. As a result, the core is unlikely to absorb and transfer energy which puts excessive stress on the lower back. If a person plays several rounds per week, this repetitive strain can build up leading to overuse injuries and missed time spent out on the course. In addition, if a person has underlying lumbar joint degeneration (arthritis) or disc pathology, these repetitive forces can lead to even more serious consequences.
Golfers with low back issues should treat their hips just as much, if not more, than the low back itself. By maintaining proper hip joint mobility and strength, more of the detrimental golf swing forces can be dissipated before even reaching the spine and potential injuries can be prevented. Your physical therapist is the perfect person to evaluate you for hip and lumbar joint mobility dysfunctions and can provide you with simple stretches and exercises to ensure proper joint function and ultimately, more days playing the game you love. Happy swinging!
Rich Linkonis, DPT, OCS, COMT