Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Lower Spine News

Low Back Pain and Golf - Getting Into the Swing of It

The authors of the study performed a literature search to evaluate the role of specific core muscle strengthening with physical therapy for low back pain, LBP, in golfers. They also evaluated the trunk flexibility and type of golf swing.

It is expected that 55 million people will participate in the sport of gulf by 2020. It is a popular sport among those over the age of 50. This means that degenerative changes in the spine of older golfers, and forces generated during the golf swing, could increase the incidence and impact of LBP. Low back pain makes up 26 to 56 percent of golf related symptoms. Low back pain is most often caused from muscle strain, internal disc disruption, and facet joint capsule trauma.

The golf swing generates considerable forces. Axial twisting, compression, shearing forces, and lateral bending forces during the golf swing may be problematic. Knowledge of proper swing mechanics may help reduce injury. There are generally two types of golf swing styles. One is the modern golf swing, and the other is the classic golf swing.

One study demonstrated that golfers with LBP tended to exceed their trunk rotation during their swings. The modern golf swing restricts the hips, and emphasizes shoulder turning and trunk rotation. It also tends to increase lateral bending of the trunk and hyperextension of the spine on follow through. This golf swing tends to emphasize power and distance.

The classic golf swing allows hip turning. This reduces the torque on the lumbar spine. There is also less lateral bending of the trunk and shearing forces on the spine with this type of golf swing.

The authors suggest that proper conditioning to avoid imbalances in the trunk muscles, strengthening of the stabilizing trunk muscles, flexibility exercises, warming up for 10 minutes before playing, and coaching of a more classic golf swing could be beneficial to golfers with LBP.


G.S. Gluck, J.A. Bendo, F.M. Spivak. The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention.SpineJ. September 2008. Volume 8. Issue 5. Pp. 778-788.

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