Playing Golf with Low Back Pain

For the millions of people who have chronic, long-standing low back pain, golf can still be an enjoyable sport. However, a regular routine of stretching and low-impact exercise is critical to maintain the ability to play golf.

Exercise can Help Low Back Pain from Golf

  • Stretching and maintaining flexibility will be even more important to individuals with low back pain in order to prevent further injury or muscle strain related to golf. Individuals with chronic low back pain tend to lose flexibility, and if a stretching program is not maintained on a daily basis, the resulting loss in flexibility will lead to further low back pain.
  • Staying well-conditioned aerobically will also help lessen discomfort and keep the individual more functional and allow them to enjoy golf. Low-impact aerobic conditioning, such as walking or stationary biking, are both gentle on the back and are usually well tolerated for golfers with low back pain. This type of exercise should be done for 30 to 40 minutes at least three times weekly.
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Golf and Low Back Pain for Older Golfers

Many golfers continue to play as they age, and most expect to be able to continue to play during their retirement years. Unfortunately, some elderly individuals will develop conditions such as spinal stenosis or degenerative spondylolisthesis, which makes it very difficult for them to walk any significant distances on the golf course. For those individuals who have difficulty walking the golf course because of pain, using a golf cart is a perfectly reasonable option. Although they will lose the advantage of the exercise they would get walking the golf course, riding will allow them to continue to enjoy golfing. People with spinal stenosis or degenerative spondylolisthesis can maintain their aerobic conditioning with stationary biking, which is usually a better tolerated form of exercise than walking.

Older golfers are probably less likely to develop low back pain from the golf swing since they do not try to develop the same degree of torque (as they did when they were younger). Additionally, modification of the golf swing may be necessary in the injured or elderly athlete. Modifications typically comprise a relaxed posture, 31-inch back swings, increased hand action, and a shorter finish.