In general, golf is an excellent form of low impact aerobic exercise, especially if one walks the golf course instead of riding on a golf cart.

The exercise encourages blood flow, which in turn helps maintain a healthy back. However, due to the repeated twisting and force inherent in the golf swing, the sport also leaves the lower back susceptible to injury.

How Golf Causes Low Back Pain

  • The full golf swing (backswing and follow-through) rotates the spine with a great deal of force and little control, leaving the structures in the lower back particularly open to injury
  • Spinal muscles, especially the lumbar spine muscles, strain to help provide force during the golf swing
  • Disc and facet joint loading increases also helping to provide force during the golf swing
  • Bending over to pick up the golf bag or even the golf ball or club may strain muscles as well as carrying the golf bag

Preventing Back Injuries from Golf

  • Warm up with smooth, easy swings prior to getting out on the course
  • Learn proper form and posture for playing golf, including a smooth, rhythmic swing in good balance
  • Choose a golf bag with a built in stand to avoid having to lift it, and dual straps to avoid carrying an uneven load
  • When picking up the golf ball, bend at the knees or get a device for your putter that allows for the ball to be retrieved from the hole without bending over

For anyone with lower back problems, it is a good idea to consider hiring a golf professional who is experienced at teaching golfers with bad backs. Ideally, this type of golf professional will be able to explain and help practice postures and techniques that reduce back strain and prevent back pain.

Read more about Golf and Low Back Pain

Dr. Thomas Hyde is a chiropractor who retired with more than 30 years of experience treating spine pain and soft tissue disorders in athletes and active patients.