Preventing Back Pain

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A strong core is a key element to preventing back pain.

By Chris Caalsen

Due to recent back pain, especially right after a round of golf, I’ve decided to start an exercise program to strengthen my core and try reduce back pain.

This article was written in conjunction with some of my research to strengthen my back muscles and try reduce back strain after a round of golf.

The rotational stresses of the golf swing can place considerable pressure on the spine and muscles. Also, poor flexibility and muscle strength can cause minor strains in the back that can easily develop into severe injuries. Lower back pain is the number one injury sustained by golfers, accounting for up to 34.5% of all injuries (ask Tiger Woods). Most golfers report back pain developing over time rather than from one traumatic incident as was the case with me. My back pain was particularly bad after a number of rounds of golf in close succession.

The modern swing, separating the hips and shoulders as much as possible during the backswing, gains more power and finishes in lumbar hyperextension which increases pressure on the spine. Adding to injury potential during follow-through are the eccentrically contacting abdominal muscles to slow rotation and the increased pressure on the annulus of the intervertebral disc.

Members on SOS will know that my golf swing is anything but orthodox and for this reason, I believe I may put even more strain on my back.(2nd most orthodox swing to Ryan Hendry, who defies science with his crazy golf swing)

So let me cut to the chase. Everybody has a different swing and could cause back pain in different ways. Yes, if you have a crazy golf swing like I do, you might want to consult a swing coach, but I don’t believe my 20 handicap warrants a swing coach.

Core strengthening exercise

Besides stretching before a game of golf, once can develop a strong core to help prevent back pain.

Exercises for Strengthening the Core & Lower Back

Looking good in a swimsuit isn’t the only reason to strengthen the muscles in your core and low back. The core, which includes muscles of the hips, spine, pelvic floor and abdomen, plays an important role in providing stability to the back. In addition, building strength in these muscles can also help prevent the onset of low back pain and improve your endurance while running , working out and playing golf. Several different exercises target these important muscle groups.

Bridge

Bridges activate several different core muscles including your gluteus maximus and your transversus abdominus.

How To: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Contract your abdominal muscles and avoid holding your breath. Lift your buttocks off the ground and hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds before slowly lowering your body back down again.

Dead Bug

This exercise challenges your abdominal muscles to maintain core stability while you move your arms and legs away from your body.

How To: While lying on your back, lift both legs in the air and bend your hips and knees to 90 degree angles. Squeeze your stomach muscles and keep your back flat against the ground. As you maintain this position, straighten one leg in the air as you raise the alternate arm overhead. Do not allow your back to arch as you do this. Return to the starting position and then repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

Plank with Leg Lifts

This modified version of the standard plank activates the gluteus maximus muscle as you challenge your abdominal muscles.

How To: Assume a push-up position with your elbows extended and your hands resting on the ground under each shoulder. Keep your buttocks in line with your body and engage your stomach muscles so your spine is straight. Then, lift one leg in the air and slowly lower it back down without allowing your pelvis to drop. Repeat this with the other leg and continue to alternate between the two.

Side Plank

Side planks target both the oblique muscles and the gluteus medius, an important core muscle on the side of your pelvis.

How To: Lie on your right side with your knees straight and your legs stacked on top of each other. With your right elbow positioned under your shoulder, lift your body off the ground until your spine is straight. Maintain this position for 5 to 10 seconds before lowering yourself back to the ground. After a full set, repeat the exercise on your left side

Prone Flutters

This exercise challenges the multifidi muscles in your low back. These muscles play an important role in stabilizing the spine.

How To: Lie on your stomach with your arms extended over your head. Lift your right arm and left leg in the air at the same time and then slowly lower them back down. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg and continue to alternate.

Prayer Plank

Prayer planks use an exercise ball to challenge the transversus abdominis muscle by incorporating instability. The transversus abdominis acts like a girdle, surrounding your internal organs and contributing to a healthy, supported low back.

The one handed push up

This has nothing to do with strengthening your back, but if you want to see me smash my face into meat sauce, join us on Year End Tour in October and watch me do one handed push ups