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Should I Play Golf If My Back Hurts?

Quick Answer - It depends.

Back pain, unfortunately, is highly prevalent in golfers. It is the biggest injury risk in the sport and is something I spend a lot of time discussing with my clients. What's interesting with back pain is the severity, cause, onset and persistence has large variations from player to player. Golfers come to me from both ends of the spectrum. Slight aches and pains in the area after playing 36 holes in a day. All the way to ‘my back completely went on the first tee’. Now although they seem very different, both players on each end of the spectrum, and everyone in between, have one thing in common. They all want to carry on playing golf.

So the question is, should you play golf if your back hurts?

Although this question is very complex, I generally like to give an answer based on two separate questions. Question one is; Does the pain reduce when you start moving? This is really important. There is a big difference between muscular soreness and pain. Anyone who has started a new exercise training regime will know that feeling in their muscles in the days that follow a hard session. Well this is best categorized as muscular ‘soreness’. Hitting your putter on your ankle, that’s pain. Generally ‘soreness’ in the lower back is ok to play through ‘pain’ isn’t.




For golf, a great way to distinguish between the two is whether a warm up helps. If going through 5-10 minutes of movements and maybe some light swings eases the pain, then that’s good news. If the pain doesn't reduce, or gets worse, that’s your sign to stop.

Now just because the pain might have reduced from this warm up, it might not mean that it’s a good idea to jump straight back on the course. The second question to ask yourself is; Is golf causing the pain? Now this is a tricky one, so I will try to simplify it. If swinging the golf club instantly causes pain in your back, that’s a sign to stop. This might not mean that golf is the underlying cause of the issue in the first place, but if the swing is directly causing pain there is a problem.

If you're unable to play, that's frustrating. But you have an opportunity to return better, stronger and pain free. I have seen incredible improvements in lower back issues in golfers of all ages by working on a few simple areas. Typically, the pain will be caused by either a lack of mobility, stability or strength in key areas (or a combination of these). With a simple check from a qualified professional it should be fairly obvious where these limitations are for you. With a little bit of hard work you will be back on the course pain free and playing even better golf than before.




In summary, playing golf with back pain is possible. You just need to make sure that the pain is not being caused by the golf and that the pain subsides following movement. If you have any specific concerns over your lower back pain you can email me at Joe@macrogolfonline.co.uk and I’ll be happy to help however I can.

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