Copyright (c) 2011 Scott Cole
The golf swing is a complex athletic move that involves the use of just about every muscle and joint in the body. As a result, golfers tend to be injury prone when they swing the golf club with some improper moves during the golf swing. One biomechanical trainer who trains a number of golfers on the PGA Tour has suggested that golfers are great compensators. When they struggle to make a proper move at some point in the golf swing, golfers will compensate by trying to counter that move later in the golf swing. Unfortunately, this is often when injuries occur.
Probably the most common injury among golfers is in the back. Back injuries are usually a result of two major faults in the golf swing. The first swing fault occurs when the golfer has difficulty lifting their arms in the backswing. The golfer usually compensates for this by tilting the hips in the backswing, instead of turning them. As a result, the back leans toward the target in the backswing. In the downswing, to make some decent contact with the ball, the golfer must thrust the hips forward violently, which tilts the spine back away from the target and puts significant pressure on the lower back.
The golfer who has some difficulty in lifting their arms in the backswing likely has some shoulder issues that need to be addressed. There is likely some rotational ability that can be corrected with treatment and exercise. Once this is remedied, the golfer should also learn to swing the club without tilting the spine toward the target. Maintaining the spine angle better during the golf swing will help to prevent injury to the back.
The second swing fault that results in back pain is the reverse C position that many golfers end up in on their follow through. Many golfers end up in this position because they do not understand how the golf club functions to get the ball in the air. As such, they try to help the ball in the air with a big follow through that results in them leaning away too much from the target, and this puts significant pressure on the lower and middle back.
The primary solution to this swing issue is to get a better understanding of how the golf club works to lift the ball into the air. Consider a pitching wedge. The wedge typically has 47 degrees of loft and a number of grooves. The loft and the grooves will combine to create backspin, and it is the backspin that lifts the ball in the air. The more spin you generate, the higher the ball flies.
Many beginners and average golfers instead try to help the ball in the air by catching the ball on the upswing as they tilt the back too far away from the target. What they should be doing is lowering their center of gravity in the downswing, which will allow the club to catch the ball first, and bottom out past where the ball was sitting. The divot should occur past where the ball was sitting. This allows the club to compress the ball and put a spin on it to get it into the air. A golfer who understands this knows that they don’t need to tilt the spine so much during the swing.
The key to avoiding back pain while playing golf is to learn the proper fundamentals of the swing. By having a better understanding of the swing fundamentals, the golfer can learn to swing the club correctly, and play pain-free.
Scott Cole is a professional golf instructor who teaches at the Olney Golf Park in Olney, Maryland. For more information, visit www.scottcolegolf.com