At this point in the season, a lot of golfers are beginning to complain about low-back pain.
(Tendonitis and other overuse injuries in the elbows, shoulders and wrists typically show up later in the season.)
Low-back pain in golfers is often related to a lack of flexibility in the hip sockets and thoracic (midback) spine, said Chris Cooper, a physical therapist at Therapeutic Associates at the Athletic Club of Bend and Titleist Performance Institute-certified golf fitness instructor. The lumbar spine (lower back) is not built for much rotation, Cooper said. Rather, it exists for stability.
The hip sockets and midback are the areas that should be able to bend, twist and move. But if they are tight, a golfer might try to get some rotation out of the low back, and that's when pain and injuries start.
“The injury is usually not the fault of the structure that is breaking down, but rather an adjacent segment,” Cooper said.
Cooper said some stretches can help.
However, he noted, doing these suggested stretches at home calls for a different intention than doing them on the course.
If you're stretching right before the golf swing on the course, incorporate your breath with your stretch in a gentle, flowing motion. This better prepares the body for activity by mimicking the positions and movements involved with the game. (No bouncing or aggressive movements, Cooper said.)
To expand your range of motion, the stretches should be held static, or still, for a longer period of time. Static stretching can improve general flexibility and muscle length. But this kind of stretching should be done after a round, or at home.
Recent evidence has shown that static stretching prior to a dynamic activity can actually hinder performance rather than enhance it, according to Cooper. A person might feel slower or out of sync if he or she does a lot of static stretches before a motion like the golf swing.