Swing into Less Back Pain on the Course

During this past year of COVID everyone has been “working” from home or otherwise stuck at home not being able to work. Between the two, the one good thing this pandemic has been good for is the upswing in people playing golf. It’s been a great way for long-time and first-time players to get out and forget about the rest of life for a few hours.

But whether you’ve been at Waterchase Golf Club, Pecan Valley Golf Course, or Meadowbrook, there’s one thing you need to pay attention to, beyond the break of your putts or that water hazard left of the fairway — your back.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine noted that spine injuries, particularly lower back injuries, were the most common form of golf injury in amateur golfers, accounting for from one-fifth to one-third of all golf injuries.

In this month’s two DFW Center for Spinal Disorders blogs, let’s get into golf and your back.

Why does golf impact the back?

While someone with a nice swing may be told they have a “natural” swing, there’s really nothing natural about how the golf swing affects your body, particularly your back. First of all, it’s a completely one-sided motion. For right handers, they are always moving backward, loading their right leg, and turning their shoulders clockwise, and then it all unwinds. That repetition is one of the problems. If we swung in one direction and then the next in the other, that would create less stress on the same muscles.

Twisting is also a basically unnatural movement, at least in the rapid acceleration created in a golf swing. Twisting your spine and the corresponding muscles is often the culprit behind strains and muscle pulls. They can also lead to herniated discs.

Incorrect form is often a problem. Plus, men in particular have an innate desire to kill the ball, leading to strain due to the false push for swing acceleration.


You can see the impact such forces have on the spine in professional golfers. In December of last year, Tiger Woods had his fifth back surgery. He’s had four microdiscectomies and one spinal fusion.

We’ve written in past blogs about Tiger’s use of the Centinel Spine STALIF M-Ti Anterior Lumbar Integrated Interbody fusion implant that Dr. Tinley uses at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders.

Golf injuries are typically strained or overworked muscles. But they can also be more serious, as in Tiger’s case, where discs herniate from the stresses of the golf swing.

In April’s second blog, we’ll give you three exercises to help keep your back in good form when out on the links in the pleasant weather of April and May in Fort Worth. Until then, if you have chronic back pain, give Dr. Tinley a call at (817) 916-4685 to make an appointment so he can see what’s going on.

Posted in: Back Pain, Spinal Disorders

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