Preventing Back Injury with the Golf Swing

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I am not a swing coach. This post is not intended to work on swing mechanics.

What I do understand is the spine and how to protect it from injury.

It does not hurt that I am a golfer and have the basic understanding of the swing.

From general observations and incidence of back injury, the average person does not have good posture.

This is true in golf as well. You get a wide range of people at a regular golf course. Some are in great shape, others are not.

You do not need to be a PGA pro to realize that some people are not conditioned to handle the demands of the golf swing.

Plain and simple swinging a golf club generates a lot of force in the form of torque.

Even if you are not swinging out of your shoes, there is a lot going on.

This high force activity can be problematic for many backs.

Poor posture creates a higher risk for injury and an inefficient pattern.

Look at the backs of these two golfers. The one on the left is rounded and the right is close to a straight line.

A rounded back means that the spine is flexed. A flexed spine puts pressure on the vertebral disks. This pressure is what leads to herniations and bulges.

Also, capable of damaging the spine is flexion with rotation. When the swing is executed, the spine goes through those two motions.

This position causes energy leaks as well. This means that golfer on the left cannot generate as much force as the golfer on the right.

This results in a poorer swing and result.

How to fix it: 1. Hinge the hips

Stand a few inches from, facing away from a wall. Push your hips back to the wall. Once you touch bring the hips forward to a standing position.

This is how I like to teach the hip hinge in order to deadlift, kettlebell swing, and RDL. It also works for golf.

This position keeps the spine straight and allows for efficient rotation. The body will be able to come through the ball much easier when hinged, compared to slumped.

hip hinge

2. Keep the core stable

Being able to stabilize the core keeps the spine in a neutral position. It also causes a co contraction of the abdominal and back muscles.

Activating these muscles will ensure that they are used for the swing. This could potentially mean longer shots.

A stable core means that the spine will not be flexed. It will also protect against the rotation of the swing.

According to Stuart McGill, the best golfers are able to maximize core stability at the instant of contact with the ball.

Staying tight can enhance your performance and prevent injury.

3. Wake up at least an hour before you start swinging

Sleeping causes the vertebral disks to become hydrated. This means that they are larger and more likely to be squeezed by the vertebrae.

Luckily, the disks lose a lot of the water in the hour after waking up. This is also why you supposedly shrink throughout the day.

Avoiding the golf swing upon waking up will help protect the disks. Make sure you wake up a few minutes earlier to avoid any unnecessary stress on the disks.

I cannot say that I am an expert on the golf swing but I do know that poor posture results in poor results. Clean up your technique by utilizing the hip hinge and core stability.

It may mean longer drives and better scores, but most importantly the health to continue playing. Making this small change may be the difference of continued playing and time missed due to a back injury.