As a golfer, you’re probably all too familiar with back pain. Even GOATs get sidelined with back problems. Fortunately, this pain doesn’t have to come after every round. Unless you have a serious injury, treating and preventing back pain from golf is pretty simple.
Please note that we are not doctors and this is not a substitute for medical treatment. If your back pain is severe, you have a chronic condition like arthritis, or you have pain that does not subside after several days, please see a doctor to rule out more serious problems.
Now let’s get into it.
Why Does Golf Cause Back Pain?
Short answer: the swing.
Long answer: poor swing mechanics. Swinging a golf club is a full body experience: your back, arms, hips, glutes, and core are all at work. If not executed correctly, your swing can cause you a lot of pain (and we’re not talking about your score).
It’s kind of like deadlifting. If your positioning is wrong, you’re going to be hurting in all the wrong places. But if your mechanics are right, you’re golden.
We’ll talk more about mechanics in just a bit.
A weak core, not warming up, and strain from other activities can also make golf painful. Let’s look at some ways to treat and prevent these issues.
This post contains affiliate links. Golfing Revoltuion receives a small commission on purchases made with these links at no extra cost to you.
Treating Back Pain from Golf
If your back is aching, get relief with these tips:
You knew this was coming. And you know pushing an injury is a surefire way to make it worse. So when you’re hurting, don’t push through it. In addition to taking time away from golf, you might need to change your workout routine. Instead of Crossfit or lifting, try workouts that are easier on your back like swimming or yoga.
While you’re taking it easy, try heat (for muscle aches, arthritis, and stiffness) or ice (for muscle strain, sprain, or swelling) for 15-20 minutes at a time. Use an ointment like Tiger Balm or take an Epsom salt bath for extra relief.
2. Get a Lesson
If your back hurts after golf, especially your lower back, your swing mechanics are almost certainly to blame. S-posture, which causes your lumbar spine to curve outward like the lower portion of the letter S is a common issue, and it happens when you set up your swing. Reverse Spine Angle (RSA) can go hand-in-hand with S-posture and causes your lumbar spine to overextend during the swing.
A golf pro will be able to look at your swing and help you correct issues with your posture and mechanics. They can also give you drills and exercises to help you adjust to the new positions. The result will be a better swing, less pain, and (ideally) lower scores!
3. Get a Massage
Rest, golf lessons, massages…who knew treating back pain could double as treating yo’ self?
Massage loosens up tight muscles, decreases tension, and increases blood flow to those muscles, helping you recover faster. It can even help conditions like osteoarthritis of the spine and chronic pain. To get the most out of your session, look for a sports massage therapist. You might even find one that specializes in golf massage!
Preventing Back Pain from Golf
Stop the cycle of back pain, relief, back pain with these tips:
1. Warm-Up Before Each Round
This is especially important for those early morning rounds. (And no, walking from your car to the cart doesn’t count as a warm up.) Stretching and warming up your muscles before tee off will go a long way in prevention (and improving your game).
Try these stretches before you even think about swinging a club:
- Hold your golf club horizontally behind your neck and shoulders and rotate your torso to warm up your upper back.
- Stand with your feet together and put your arms above your head. Grab your right wrist with your left hand and tilt to the left, gently pulling your right arm. Hold for a few counts, then switch your grip and tilt to the right. This stretches the sides of your back and your obliques.
- Warm up your hips by standing on one leg and pulling your opposite knee up to your chest. Repeat several times on each side.
- Last, warm up your hamstrings by bending over and touching your toes.
2. Get a Push Cart
Carrying your bag seems like great exercise, but it puts a lot of strain on your back and shoulders. If you’re walking, a push cart eliminates this stress on your back, lowering the chances back pain will sideline you.
The Sun Mountain Pathfinder is my favorite and one I use regularly. The four wheels make it more stable than a two or three-wheel cart. It rolls well and has a brake, which keeps the cart from rolling away from you. The Pathfinder is a push cart, which is easier on your shoulders than a pull cart.
If you need a more budget-friendly option, the BagBoy M-350 is a great choice. Durable, lightweight, and minimalistic, it’ll get the job done.
3. Strengthen Your Core
Golf is a sport that works your core, hard. Strengthening your back and abs will help prevent back pain and give you more power in your swing. You know we’re big fans of yoga, and it’s excellent for building core strength without strenuous movements that may strain your back. Here are a few core-building yoga workouts to try: