How to Improve Your Golf Game and End Lower Back Pain

If you’re excluding lower back muscles in the gym, you are putting yourself at a considerable disadvantage as an athlete.

Mention of “the core” has most athletes think of the stomach muscles or abs. What is typically overlooked is the back. If you’re excluding lower back muscles in the gym, you are putting yourself at a considerable disadvantage as an athlete – and your golf game is probably suffering, as well.

Strength coaches focus on the entire torso when it comes to building core strength. These muscles consists on the rectus abdominus, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominus, and erector spinae. These may be technical terms, but you use all of these muscles in normal daily activity to ensure proper posture, as well as stability for the skeletal and visceral systems.

Why is all of this important? The rectus abdominus, i.e. the six-pack, isn’t just for show. While, the other muscles are even more important for rotational force, the erector spinae muscles are key factors in postural adaptations, including vertebral column extension. In fact the erector spinae muscles run the entire length of the spine.

If golfers focus primarily on building a six-pack, they are severely neglecting the muscles primarily responsible for rotation. Sure, a strong rectus abdominus will aid in the driving force during the down swing, developing a forceful swing that makes that perfect divot. It also helps to prevent you from topping the ball, but it won’t help in the rotation needed to maximize club head speed.

The transverse abdominus will aid here by compressing the abdominal cavity. While the obliques, combined with the quadratus lumborum, help your entire swing create the force that develops right and left lateral rotation. These are the powers that be in golf!

Core Workout for Golfers

The good part is that incorporating training for these muscles into your core training routine is simple and should be done regardless. Building a strong core is one of the most important methods to preserve back health. It’s just a side effect that your golf swing will become more powerful.

Strong core muscles assist in effective breathing patterns, forceful rotation, and spinal support. While, we are bipedal mammals, think of your back similar to a snake. Powerful muscle tissues surround the delicate skeletal system of snake, but gravity doesn’t work against a reptile like it does to humans. If your back is poorly supported, then the likeliness of injury increases, especially when we add global system stressors – such as golf.

Maintaining proper muscle balance through the core develops stability in the back. This process helps us to avoid disc herniation, a debilitating disorder that affects many golfers, both professional and amateur. Strong core muscles provide the support that prevents the vertebral tissue from becoming irritated by rotation that affects alignment. That’s why you currently feel tight, sore and stiff after a round of eighteen. The back muscles are either, poorly trained or highly inactive during your swing. Consistent abuse leads to wear and tear injuries that could be prevented by using the exercises outlined below.

Back Extension

This is a light weight-only exercise. These muscles should not endure large loads of resistance. Completing 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions is sufficient. They can be completed on a back extension seated machine or by using a stability ball.

Oblique Crunches

For this exercise, you want to choose a kettlebell that provides enough weight to be challenging to the system. Work both side of the body. Hold the weight with the one hand on the lateral side of your body, next to the outside of your leg. Completing 3-4 sets at 8-12 reps is sufficient for gaining strength.

Contralateral Plank Supermans

This exercise is a full core exercise that requires no weight. They are challenging because the movement stimulates stabilizers, as well as antagonistic muscles to be active. After 3-4 sets exhaustion will set in quickly, so see how many reps you can complete without losing your form.

How to Incorporate This With Your Golf Game

When training for golf, the same principles should apply as would for any other sport. The goal is sport specific, meaning you want to mimic movements that are similar in planar motion to the sport itself or train the muscles that are required to produce progressive strength and power.

Completing the workout above two to three times a week, in combination with other exercises that train golf specific musculature, is sufficient. What we want to avoid is overtraining. Key signs are prolonged fatigue and muscle soreness. Your diet plays a major role in fatigue as well.

If you want to prolong your golf career, you need to keep your back healthy. By training your entire core, not just the showy muscles, you are completing what I like to call “preventative medicine.” By doing this work now, you are preventing a future visit to the doctor who might ultimately tell you that you should stop golfing.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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