It took forever, but it seems spring is finally here. That also means that golf season is upon us. After a long winter of hibernation and inactivity, taking some aggressive swings with the golf club can be very hard on your back. Most injuries occur due to inadequate warm-up and occur during the impact or follow-through phase of the swing.
A significant amount of force is put through the spine during the downswing – in fact, the amount of force is similar to a football linemen hitting a sled. The muscles, joints and discs can be injured during the swing, so it’s very important to warm up properly. Stretching is beneficial, but the best warm ups include some dynamic movements. There should be a bit of movement involved to work your body through a full range of motion.
1) Low Back Stretch
Lay on your back and pull your knee to your chest. To get more of a stretch pull your leg across your body (towards your opposite shoulder). Hold your stretch for 30 seconds and complete two on each side.
2) Hip Flexor Stretch
In a lunge position, perform a pelvic tilt and lean backwards. You should feel this stretch through the groin area. Hold for 30 seconds, complete two on each side.
3) Child’s Pose
Kneel with your feet touching and knees spread at shoulder width. Sit back on your heels and reach forward with arms overhead, lowering your chest towards the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.
4) Neck Stretches
Tilt your ear to your shoulder and pull gently, hold for 30 seconds. Repeat two on each side. Next, bring your nose to your armpit and pull gently. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat two on each side.
5) Clock Squats
Stand with your feet together. Take one lunge step forward and then step back to the starting position. Continue to step in the pattern of a clock, using your lead foot to step in a 1’oclock to 11’oclock pattern. This with help warm up your glutes and get your ready for the game.
6) Resistance Band Swings
Perform a shallow squat, engage the abdominals and lean forwards slightly. Using a resistance band hold one end of the band between your knees and use the other hand to pull the band up in a swinging motion. Complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
7) Bat Swings
Using your golf club, swing the club like you would swing a baseball bat. Start slowly, completing half swings and then full swings. Gradually increase the swing speed. Complete 10-30 swings in total.
8) Golf Swings
Assume a swing stance and fold your arms across your chest. Mimic the swing phase by rotating the hips and torso but leaving the arms stationary. Make the movements short and quick, and as similar to a real swing as possible. The last phase of your warm up should include full swings, working from slow to real-speed swings.
Some other helpful tips to avoid injury on the golf course:
- Make sure your clubs are the right fit/length. The grips on your club can have a big impact on your upper back and shoulders, so it’s important that they are comfortable and properly fit.
- Push your cart instead of pulling it
- Longer putters = less strain on your lower back
- If you carry your golf bag, use a bag with two straps instead of one
- When you pick your ball up out of the hole don’t just bend forward at the waist. Use a golfer’s lift to pick the ball up OR squat and use your legs to bend forward.
Use these as a template to warm up before you hit the golf course! If you don’t warm up properly you are susceptible to injury, so if your back (or any other body part) tweaks on the course, come see us immediately for treatment.
Be safe and enjoy the nice weather!