Is it possible to golf following a back injury?  In most cases – yes, especially if you are in good shape.  Exercise has been shown to reduce low back pain (LBP) and can improve your golf game.  The following is a list of exercise guidelines and golf tips:

  • Stretch – Stretch regularly and warm up before each game. Maintaining flexibility is very important for preventing golf injuries. People with LBP tend to lose flexibility and require a daily stretching routine. Try to stretch your shoulders, arms, neck, torso, hips, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Warm up – Take a brisk 5 minute walk to get your blood flowing, then gently swing your club in the opposite direction 10-20 times to balance the one-sidedness of your swing, and repeat this every few holes. When practicing, start with small irons and work up to large woods.
  • Strengthen your core – Abdominal and back muscle conditioning is very important as it will increase stability of the spine during golf swings.
  • Walk the course – Avoid using a cart; sitting creates 40% more stress on the discs in the back than standing, and the bouncing can be equally irritating. Plus walking is good exercise!
  • Push don’t pull – Ideally, push your rolling golf cart, pull when necessary (avoid twisting) and avoid carrying your bag when possible.
  • Pace yourself – After a low back injury, it’s important to resume previous activities in a gradual manner. Begin with hitting a few buckets of balls at the driving range.  Although this may feel repetitive, it will help your body to slowly regain the required movements and your muscle memory will restore sooner.  Then progress (if all goes well) to 9 and eventually 18 holes of golf as tolerated.
  • Use good posture – Golfers don’t typically realize how difficult it is to maintain a proper stance throughout 18 holes of golf. If you golf with a poor stance, it can be stressful to the joints, muscles and ligaments of your low back.  When setting your stance, bend forward at your hips (vs. your waist) to prevent a low back strain.

In short, stay fit and strong and listen to your body, and most importantly, enjoy!