Two Common Causes of Low Back Pain in Golfers & how to avoid them!


With the golf season now in full swing, many golfers may be experiencing some aches and pains from the first several rounds of the course. Low back pain is a common complaint among golfers and can be caused by numerous factors.

However, there are two common areas of weakness which stand out to highlight why golfers suffer with low back pain.

Two Reasons for Low Back Pain in Golfers
The first :  limited or restricted hip mobility, especially hip internal rotation.

Internal hip rotation involves a rotation of the head of the femur (thigh bone) into the hip socket. On the backswing of a right handed golfer, the right hip will travel into internal rotation, and then on the follow-through, the left hip will travel into internal rotation. If your hips are stiff into internal rotation, it can then cause strain up into the low back as the body attempts to compensate for this lack of mobility.

The second : poor trunk control and core weakness.

Core weakness results in increased strain into the joints within the low back during rotational movements associated with the golf swing. Core weakness can also result in deficits maintaining good posture throughout the golf swing. Inconsistent contact and poorly struck golf shots is usually the result.

A recent case study published in Hospital for Special Surgery Journal described a golfer with low back pain due to limited internal hip rotation, range of motion and core weakness. He was treated by a physical therapist to improve hip range of motion and core strength. After several visits the physical therapist not only resolved his back pain, but also was able to decrease his handicap by three strokes! This case study emphasizes the importance of maintaining good hip mobility and core strength if you are keen to play pain free!

Below are some hip stretching exercises to help further improve your hip internal rotation and increase your range of motion:
Windshield wipers:

Lie on your back with both knees bent. Spread your feet shoulder width apart and then let one knee fall toward the opposite foot.  Repeat on each side and make sure to not push into any pinching type of pain.

Windshield wiper start

golf stretch windshield wiper start

Windshield wiper finish

golf stretch windshield wiper finish

Hip Drivers:

Stand with both hands against the wall and your feet about 1-2 feet from the wall. Keep your left foot planted and facing the wall, and then take your right leg, leading with your knee, and bring it up toward your left hand that is on the wall. This will help improve left hip internal rotation range of motion. Then repeat in the opposite sequence to improve right hip internal rotation range of motion.

Left hip driver to improve right hip internal rotation range of motion
Left hip driver range of motion

Right hip driver to improve left hip internal rotation range of motion

Right hip driver range of motion

Below are some core stabilization exercises for better core control and strength:

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Then contract your core muscles and bring your bottom off the ground until you are in a full bridge position. Pause at the top briefly and then slowly lower back to the start position.

Bridge start:

Golf stretch bridge end

Bridge finish:

Golf stretch bridge end

Bird Dog:

On a hands and knees position, tighten your core and then slowly reach out your right arm and kick out your left leg.  Make sure to keep your core tight and back still while moving your arms and legs.  Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

Bird Dog Start

golf stretch bird dog start

Bird Dog Finish

golf stretch bird dog finish

Tipping Birds:

Stand on one leg and then tighten your core while bending forward, hinging over the leg that you are standing on. Your low back and opposite leg should be in straight alignment during this exercise. Bend forward until a slight stretch is felt and then return slowly back to the start position.

Tipping Bird start:

tipping bird start golf stretch

Tipping Bird finish:

tipping bird finish golf stretch


If you would like to see Elite Performance Therapy about lower back pain or other golf injuries, please click here.

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