As a golfer there aren’t as many injuries as devastating as a bad back. Nevertheless, back injuries are among the most common in our game.
In some cases, a golf swing can strain the back. This leaves the question; which golf swing is best for a bad back.
Golf Swing and Your Back
Truth be told, there isn’t such a thing as the “best golf swing” for a bad back. However, there are many ways you can relieve your back during your swing. You don’t have to stay away from the sport completely, but you will have to get used to playing differently. For instance, more emphasis will be placed on your hands and arms.
Tips For Swinging with a Bad Back
Have a look at our key focus points to ease your back.
Stand Straight at Address
At address, change your usual stance. In other words, don’t hover over the ball with a flawlessly straight spine. A bad back, won’t allow you to lean forward as much. This will not only hurt your back but add more pressure to your heels.
Move Your Upper and Lower Body Together
When you want to relieve pressure off of your back, avoid swinging movements where your upper body turns and the lower body stays still. This is where you want to get into the old classical motion of turning your hips and shoulders together. Twisting your backswing will hurt your back more.
Narrow Stance and Feet Turned Out
A narrow stance gives your lower body more freedom to turn in the backswing. Remember you need to do everything you can to prevent your body from twisting. It would also help to spread both your feet out at address. This advances your lower body’s rotation in the backswing.
Don’t Tilt Your Hips and Spine
One of the largest contributing aspects that give rise to back pain, is unnecessary tilting of the hips and spine. As soon as you lean forward, one hip will be higher than the other in the backswing. The same can be said in the forward swing. Tilting hips and spine forces you to stay in a bent over position, which also implicates things for your back.
The aim is to turn as level as possible. You need to turn on a flatter plane, not a tilted plane. Basically, you are going to turn your shoulders like a baseball player’s. This happens when you stand up taller at address. When you’re not bent over much, your body will be more aligned when you turn.
Move the Ball Up
To stay level in the downswing, you should play from a ball position that is more forward. Getting the ball too far back, will result in swinging too far from the inside and tilt. Swinging in-to-out too much on the downswing, will leave you away from the target and strains your back. When you place the ball more forward in the stance, your trail shoulder will be higher in the downswing. This is a main component to levelling through the shot.
A Loose Grip
A weaker grip has more benefits in golf than you think. It is a huge benefit if you are suffering with bad back. When you start using hands and arms more, the rest of your body won’t be as strained. This certainly gives more freedom on your back.
Turn each hand so that the “V” formed by your thumb and forefinger, points more toward your chin. Be careful not to keep this pointed to your trail shoulder. This method loosens your grip allowing your hands and arms to swing freely.
Move Your Head
You’re probably doing your best to keep your head perfectly still in the backswing. Most likely to stay balanced over the ball. But this isn’t necessary, you can move your head.
Allow your head move naturally to (left or right depending on your orientation) in the backswing, as you load into your trail leg. When you don’t load correctly going back, you risk having an inverse weight shift. Here your spine tilts back in the downswing.
Reduce Leg Drive in the Downswing
When you have back problems, it is important for you to feel as if your upper body is the driving force of your downswing. The emphasis is on the upper body’s role in the swing. This swing is not fuelled by your legs in any way shape or form.
You shouldn’t try to drive your legs hard as this will cause a tilt. Many players drive their legs excessively on the downswing. This is mainly because they want to increase ground force and power.
This is very dangerous when you are struggling with a bad back. Rather than forcefully using your legs on the downswing, try to keep your knees bent when coming down and through impact. Your lower body doesn’t rotate as quick, and your back won’t tilt away from the target. Most importantly, it won’t hurt when you swing.
Playing golf should be a fun, comfortable and relaxing experience. But when you have a bad back, it’s easier said than done. Here we would encourage you to do these simple exercises to strengthen your back.
Planking is the go-to of all core and back exercises. It won’t put pressure on your spine, and you won’t need specific equipment. You can do this exercise just about anywhere. It is both safe and effective.
To do this, get into the top of a push up position. Strengthen your upper body and don’t let your stomach drop to the floor. Keep this position for as long as possible, take a quick rest and repeat twice. If you haven’t done this before, try to do three sets of 10 second holds. You can work your way up to 30 seconds each if you feel that you are getting stronger.
Turning is a major part of your golf swing. This exercise will help keep your back safe throughout the follow-through. To do this exercise, sit down and hold a golf club. Hold it onto your shoulders behind your neck to help you keep good posture. Now, gradually move your upper body left and right without moving your hips. This exercise is mainly a suitable warmup before teeing off.
This exercise will improve your glutes and stretch your hip flexors. Strengthening these parts of your body will prevent your golf swing from causing back pain. First, lie down on your back and bend your knees. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Now, flex your glutes and lift your bottom up off the floor. You should form a straight line from your shoulders to your torso, thighs and knees. Keep this position for a few seconds, then lower.
Your regular golf games don’t need to be interrupted from your back pain. With some exercise and playing adjustments, you could be playing golf for years to come. Enjoy the game for what it means to you. It’s often not about the scorecard, but the exercise, outdoor experience, and camaraderie.
Be kind to your body and if you look after it, you can get the best performance out of your game.