As a golf fitness instructor working out of a physical therapy clinic, you can believe I've see a lot of low back stiffness and pain. Not everyone who experiences common back pain is a golfer, so chances are you’ve had to deal with some low back pain at some point in your life whether you play golf or not. It’s been my experience that the majority of low back pain can be cured with proper muscle alignment and strength in the right areas. I’ve dealt with my own back pain before, and it wasn’t until I started doing Yoga and plyometrics that I got over it. I’ll get to that in a minute, but it should be noted that I’m not referring to the person who is experiencing disk issues. There are certain stretches and exercises that someone with bulging or herniated disks shouldn’t try. Nothing I am going to show you would harm someone with these issues, but keep in mind that if you are experiencing problems like these, this daily back routine won’t necessarily be the final cure.
That being said, I do whole-heartedly believe that a lot of chronic back issues could have been prevented with the proper attention paid to the lower back. I’ve seen way too many chronic sufferers go through numerous surgeries and never get back to 100%. But this is where your daily golf fitness back routine can come in handy. The earlier you start, the better chance you will have of preventing chronic back pain from rearing it’s ugly and annoying head into your life and threatening your golf game or daily life.
In golfers especially, most of the low back pain I see comes from what is known as the “lower crossed syndrome”. In layman's terms this means you have tight hip flexors, weak abs, a tight lower back, and weak glutes. This causes the back to take the blunt of the force as you make a golf swing. Do this repeatedly, and you’ve got a recipe for back pain. You’ve got to get the hip flexors and low back stretched as well as strengthen the abs and glutes for the proper support in the golf swing.
Here’s your daily low back routine:
Quadruped Pelvic Tilts (Cats & Dogs): Start on all fours with the thighs and arms perpendicular to the floor. Without bending the elbows, lower the spine (swayback) creating the dog position and then lift (arch) the spine creating the cat position. Repeat this back and forth and then find the middle or neutral position. Hold this neutral position with an abdominal brace for two breaths. Repeat 10 times each way for a total of 20.
Basic Glute Bridge: Lie on your back with knees bent, pelvis in a neutral tilt position and feet flat on the ground. Place arms out to side and lift the pelvis off the ground. The contractions should be felt in the glutes and abs. Try to minimize hamstring contractions, then lower. Repeat the movement with the arms extended straight up, palms together to minimize support. Perform 2 sets of 15 reps.
Plank: Lie flat on the floor, face down. Prop up on your elbows and toes, keeping a neutral spine and pelvis. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Side Plank: Lie sideways on the floor and bridge up onto your elbow and feet, keeping a neutral spine. The elbow should be directly below the shoulder and a straight line from should be formed from the feet to the shoulder. Do not let the hips rotate forward. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Low Back Stretch: Lie flat on your back with knees bent. Grab behind both of your knees and pull your knees toward your chest. Hold for 20 seconds.
Hip Flexor Stretch: Get into a half-kneeling position with one knee on the ground and the opposite knee bent with the foot about 12 inches in front of the down knee. Place your hands on your hip and slowly lean forward until a good stretch is felt in the hip flexor. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Try this daily golf fitness back routine to gain more flexibility and strength in the core muscles so you can make a safe, injury-free golf swing.