Oh, My Aching Back!

Are you an individual who is suffering from a lower back injury?

Is your lower back stiff and sore when you get out of bed in the morning? Or, heaven forbid, are you one of many individuals that has undergone back surgery?

Probably everyone reading this article has experienced a lower back problem at some time or another in their lives. They are no fun, can be very debilitating, and when it comes to golf, they certainly won’t help lower your handicap or drive the ball 300 yards.

I would like to share with you an e-mail question that I received from my website. Our member stated: “I am a ‘mature’ individual and suffering from lower back disc problems. They are not to the point that requires surgery, but they do limit my ability to play golf.” His e-mail continued to describe his lower back issues and ended with a question: “Would someone like me benefit from your lower back exercises, or would they exacerbate the problem?”

Before answering this gentleman’s question, let me give you a little background information. We have a golf fitness manual available titled Your Body & Your Swing. In this manual, there are many exercises to assist in improving your golf game.

Two stated goals exist for the exercises in this program; number one is injury prevention, and number two is performance improvement. Fairly self-explanatory in terms of their stated goals. Realize even the slightest injury will hurt your golf performance significantly.

I replied to this e-mail with a resounding “yes.”

The exercises in our program will help you with this type of low back disc problem.

Let me explain how exercises for the lower back can assist you.

The lower back is comprised of countless muscles, skeletal structures, and fibrous structures. The fibrous structures are in the form of discs and other types of cartilage. Injuries to the body have what I call a “three tier effect.” If the body is overstressed by any activity like swinging a golf club, lifting heavy boxes, or even typing on a computer, the overload on the body (amount of work performed by the body) will affect the muscular system first. This can be in the form of muscle soreness, tightness, or a slight pull. If I lift too many heavy boxes or swing a club too many times, my muscles are the “first line of defense” to injury.

If I continue to perform this high workload level and ignore what my muscles are telling me, my second line of defense kicks in.

The “second line of defense” is my cartilage and ligament structures (i.e. discs in the lower back).

How do you know if you are suffering from a second tier problem?

Indicators are inflammation, tears, or bulging of a lower back disc. Usually this is when folks go to a doctor. If you are reading this and this paragraph hits a chord, I strongly suggest seeking counsel of a physician.

Finally, if the workloads still continue at a high level, without any intervention, the skeletal structure will be affected. This can be in the formation of bone spurs or stress fractures.

An example of such a situation is the formation of bone spurs commonly found in a pitcher’s elbow or the degeneration of lower back structures in a golfer.

To stop this injury cycle, or help in the rehabilitation of a current problem, I strongly suggested you first seek professional medical attention. This will assist in the diagnosis and proper treatment of the injury.

Exercises can help rehab a golfer in such situations if implemented correctly and under supervision of a qualified individual.

The best way to prevent an injury is to Prehab. Prehab exercises, as they are often called, develop high levels of muscular strength and endurance to “handle” the workloads placed upon the body. This can assist in preventing an injury that begins the cycle described above.

Now, if you are a golfer that is already “walking down the path” of a debilitating injury, our goal is to help you reverse the cycle.

Again, seek professional medical attention and be under supervision throughout the process if you have suffered a problem. If you are starting a new golf fitness program to help with your prehab, seek professional guidance to help minimize the risk of injury.

The cycle can be reversed by unloading the skeletal and ligament structures and placing the loads upon the muscular structure. Let me explain using the example from above.

For example, if a person is in a situation where his muscular structures are “overloaded” and his discs are taking the brunt of the work, every time he swings a club, bends over to line up his putt, or picks up his ball, the discs are screaming “ouch!” My goal, if I were his trainer, would be to start a series of exercises that would strengthen the muscles of the lower back, resulting in the stresses being taken away from the discs. Once the muscles are strong and have high levels of endurance, they can handle the “workloads” placed upon the body during golf or any activity!

Over time, the exercises would alleviate the stress on the discs, get this individual out of “pain,” and restore them to a higher level of activity.

In a nutshell, to prevent injury you must develop the muscular strength and endurance to handle the workloads placed upon your body everyday. If you are an avid golfer then I would strongly suggest starting a golf-specific fitness program. This will help you to prevent an injury resulting from the stresses placed upon your body during repetitive golf swings.

Secondarily, a golf-specific fitness program will help you dramatically improve your performance on the course.

Sean Cochran

About the Author
Sean Cochran is one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world today. He travels the PGA Tour regularly with 2005 PGA & 2004 Masters Champion Phil Mickelson. He has made many of his golf tips, golf instruction and golf swing improvement techniques available to amateur golfers on the web.

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