A bad golf swing is no friend to the lower back. Whether you’re dealing with existing back pain or trying to avoid it, the repetitive motion required for golf can wreak havoc on your back. Statistics show that back disorders are by far the most common injury related to golf. What’s more, golfers are experiencing back pain problems at younger ages than before, some believe because of a change in popular golf swing technique. Tiger Woods has famously battled spine issues earlier in life compared to Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan. It’s not just golf. More and more people are dealing with back pain at younger ages –some because of physical activity, such as golf, and others because of more sedentary lifestyles that require prolonged sitting for work or long commutes. For people who sit daily for long periods and then go out to play 18 holes one day a week, that can be rough on the back.
Back pain is a major issue in the U.S. In fact, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reported that 80 percent of the population deals with some sort of lower back pain on a regular basis. This overwhelming problem is what prompted the creation of The Back Thing, a functional chair cushion designed by a neurosurgeon to provide lumbar support. Many have found relief in the simple yet smart design of The Back Thing. Jane T., who has to sit for long periods of time for work, said: “I have used The Back Thing for the past two months and have experienced less pain as a result. I think it is because I get consistent support in the right places.” Golfers can easily use the cushion on any seat, including the golf cart.
Millions of people are dealing with the same issues as Jane. Lower back pain is the second leading cause of doctor’s visits, beaten out only by the common cold. It is also accounts for the most job-related injuries and time off from work. According to The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans report, there were 264 million lost work days in one year. That’s two work days for every full-time worker in the country. As a whole, people in the U.S. spend more than $100 billion on treatment for lower back pain, according to the The Journal of American Osteopathic Association. These are staggering figures.
Why is there so much back pain in the U.S.? Back pain can be caused by straining the muscles with repetitive motions such as a golf swing, but most back pain is caused by sedentary lifestyles. In general, Americans spend much of their time sitting. They sit for work, for travel, to eat and to watch TV. They’re sitting so much it’s become detrimental to their health, leading scientists to say that sitting is the new smoking.
For people who golf often, working with a pro to correct bad form is a good idea. The “Reverse Angle” swing, for example, is a common culprit of back pain because it forces the spine to deviate from vertical during the swing. A professional could help you develop a swing that is easier on your back. There are also a few simple and inexpensive things you can do on your own. Wear a strong back support belt or wrap the area tightly with large elastic bandage to keep your back from overextending while you golf. This can relieve pain and prevent future injury.
When not golfing, develop proper posture and muscle balance with exercises directly targeted at strengthening back muscles. Practice yoga, which has been proven to ease chronic lower back pain. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. When sitting in the golf cart or any other seat, use good lumbar support that supports your back vertically – most lumbar supports are horizontal and push the lower back to overarch. Make sure to sit at a good position and height for the task. Keep shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and get up to stretch and walk around periodically.