Golf is a game for the ages; one we can play from the time our dad gets us our first set of mini clubs all the way into our later years where a cart is a needed accessory to get around the course. Though golf is considered one of the sports that is easiest on the body, there are still things that can go wrong. We all probably have felt the stiffness in our back during an early morning golf game that caused the tee-off on the first hole to be accompanied by some groaning on our part.
Millions of Americans suffer from lower back pain, and swinging a golf club does include a fair amount of twisting and torque that can affect the lumbar region of the back. In fact, many of the other health problems that affect the avid golfer (wrist and shoulder injuries, for example) come from trying to compensate the golf swing to protect one’s ailing back.
There are two great ways to protect your back while on the tee box. Firstly, it is important to maintain a proper posture while taking your backswing. This includes keeping your right knee bent (if you are a right handed golfer) and keeping your left shoulder turned downward. These two postures will help shift the burden of twisting away from the lumber region of the lower back and into the thoracic region of the middle back. The thoracic region is designed to handle more twisting than the lower back region.
Secondly, and more importantly, a good stretching exercise before the round of golf begins is essential to keep your back in shape and also to improve your backswing. Most senior golfers get shorter and shorter backswings as they grow older due to issues with stiffness and lack of flexibility. The shorter the backswing, the less power you will be able to generate on your drives and the more problems your game will develop with slices and pulls.
Since there is nothing worse than losing distance while slicing or pulling the ball all over the course, we will offer a set of stretching exercises below to help you keep your back in shape and to maintain a perfect backswing.
The A Frame Stretch
This stretch is a great one in that it helps stretch out the shoulders, hips and back all at the same time. Though the back is usually the stiffest part of the golfer’s body, getting your whole body loose will obviously help your game. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees slightly, and lean forward at the hip area until you can lay one arm across your slightly bent knees. Your back should remain straight while doing this. Then, take the free arm and point it towards the ceiling as you rotate your back and shoulders. Hold for 20 seconds and then repeat with the other arm.
Once you’ve done this stretch a few times, you can try and rotate back and forth between the starting position and the end position with the hand pointed straight up without holding for the twenty seconds mentioned earlier. As you rotate your spine from one side to the other you are helping your spinal joints gather more range of motion. If you need extra stability for this stretch, you can place your backside against a wall.
Basic Back Stretch
The basic back stretch targets the middle back area specifically and will help your thoracic region deal with the twisting motion of your backswing. Begin kneeling on the ground with both arms in front of you. Slowly slide your arms farther and farther in front of you. At the same time push your hips back towards your feet until you feel the stretch in the middle back region.
Hold that position for 20-30 seconds and then slide both arms to the right to move the stretch to your torso. Repeat on the left side and then finish.
Lower Back Stretch
This stretch will help with your lower back which is where most injuries do occur. Lie on your back and bring your right knee up towards your chest. Move your bent leg across your body (moving left) until you feel a stretch in the lower back and the hips. Your shoulders need to stay flat against the ground as only your legs and lower back should be moving. Hold for a 20 seconds and then switch to the other leg.
These three basic stretches will help get your back, hips and shoulder loose before teeing up on the first hole. You can also do other basic stretches to get your arms, legs, and other parts of your body loose as well. There are some basics you’ll want to follow during any stretching routine.
By spending 20 to 30 minutes stretching before every golf session, you’ll be able to keep your backswing perfect and continue to keep the distance that is a fundamental part of any great golf game.
Cover Image via Flickr