Back pain is one of the most common complaint in golfers of all ages...
Your lumbar spine consists of the five vertebral bones forming your lower back region. These vertebral bones are known as L1 to L5, and they are the largest of your entire spine. Your lumbar spine is located below your twelve thoracic vertebra and above the five fused bones that make up your triangular-shaped sacral region.
Compared with your other spinal vertebrae, your lumbar vertebrae are larger and thicker bones, as they support most of your body’s weight. Your lumbar vertebrae provide stability for your low back and protection of your spinal column, also allowing attachment for many muscles and ligaments. Your lower back and the muscle and ligament attachments, allow you to walk, run, sit, lift and move your body in all directions.
Your lower back has a slight inward curve called a lordotic curve. This is the neutral position of the lower back, when in this position the least strain is placed on your lower back.
Back pain can be acute or chronic in onset. Often back pain gradually develops without a cause that begins to affect someone's function to move well. Conversely pain can be acute being caused by an injury, such as a bad golf swing or lifting a heavy object. The following are potential causes of low back pain:
Muscle or ligament strains from repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movements. This tends to happen in people in poor physical condition and over load of their spine occurs resulting in pain. Repeated or constant strain on the back can cause painful muscle spasms over time. Hence weight lifting to strengthen the back muscles can increase someone's lifting tolerance, reducing the risk of injury.
Bulging or ruptured discs can occur over time or from a lifting injury. Discs act as cushions and shock absorbers between the bones in the spine. The soft material inside a disc can bulge or rupture, possibly pressing on a nerve. The jelly-like centre of the lumbar disc can break through the tough outer layer of the disc and irritate a nerve root. The herniated portion of the disc is full of proteins that causes inflammation and pain. Pain may radiate if a bulge or herniation causes nerve compression, causing nerve root pain. The disc wall is also richly supplied by nerve fibres, and a tear through the wall can cause severe back pain. However not all disc bulging causes back pain and scans can be very misleading.
Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. Intervertebral discs are full of water and at their healthiest. As people age over time, discs will lose hydration and develop increased wear. As the disc loses hydration, it cannot resist forces as well. This transfers force to the disc wall that may develop tears and cause pain or weakening, potentially leading to a disc herniation. The disc can also collapse and contribute to spinal stenosis, narrowing of the spinal canal. There are two facet joints behind each disc at each motion segment in the lumbar spine. These joints have cartilage between the bones and are surrounded by a capsular ligament, which is richly innervated by nerves. These joints can be painful by themselves, or in conjunction with disc pain. Over time they will wear as the spine loses height, the joints take more load and stress causing joint damage.
Other causes of back pain include Osteoporosis, stress fractures, fibromyalgia or spondylithesis to name a few. It is recommended if you have persistent low back pain you be assessed by a medical professional before undertaking weight lifting exercise.
Your lower back has two systems of support a passive system and an active system. The passive system is formed by the shape of the lumbar vertebrae and connective tissues such as ligaments. The active system is made up of muscles and their facial connections.
The passive systems of strong fibrous bands of ligaments hold the vertebrae and discs together, helping to stabilise the spine by preventing excessive movements. The three major spinal ligaments are the anterior longitudinal ligament, posterior longitudinal ligament and ligamentum flavum.
The active system includes your abdominal muscles, back extensors, oblique abdominal, gluteal and pelvic floor muscles as follows:
Chronic lower back pain may cause your back muscles to have less mass, greater fatty content, and more stiffness, which can cause them to fatigue more easily and result in worsening pain. Over time, this pain and easy fatiguability may lead to fear of movement, resulting in both de-conditioning and instability of your back.
Weight training exercises can improve the health of your back by increasing the function of the muscles in your back and core. Improving your muscle strength, increasing your lean muscle mass, increasing the range of motion of your spine and decreasing your body fat are all aims of a good weight training program for strengthening your lower back.
Weight training exercises work on the basic principle of progressively increasing the loads, as tolerated, to gradually improve your capacity of performing daily activities. Studies have shown weight training is very effective in reducing lower back pain. Strengthening the lower back builds capacity for your back muscles to reduce stress placed upon your lower back.
Before starting a strengthening program for your lower back, we suggest you seek medical advice to help you identify your back pain causes and the correct lower back exercises can be prescribed from bird dog to deadlifting depending on your capabilities. Many core exercises such as bird dog aim to teach movement control in the lower back, whereas heavier lifting exercises such as deadlift will build strength in the lower back, helping to reduce your lower back pain.
Weight training exercises are a great way to reduce your lower back pain and should be part of any good fitness routine. Always seek medical advice before starting this type of lifting as you do not want to damage your back further causing more lower back pain. Our top weight training exercises that will really challenge your posterior chain muscles helping to strengthen your lower back and reduce lower back pain are as follows:
Squatting has many variations and they are all terrific compound exercises. Squatting is a movement that works multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time. It is incredibly efficient because it hits pretty much the whole lower body, working your gluteals, quads, hamstrings and calves. Squatting also strengths the smaller stabiliser muscles and the ligaments that support your low back.
Squats also increase the mobility in your ankles, knees and hips, which combined with the strength benefits can help to reduce your risk of injury. Squatting also works your core, and as you are using your large muscles squats also get your heart pumping. This helps you to also burn calories and improve your cardiovascular fitness. Squatting correctly maintaining a neutral spine strengthens your lower back and can reduce lower back pain if performed well. Drive through your hips and slowly lower with control, then repeat the squat lift.
Deadlift is another really strong foundation move in your strength training program. Make sure you sit back into your hips, bending your knees simultaneously, Let your torso come forward, maintaining a neutral spine and good core control. Grab the bar, placing your hands shoulder-width apart, one palm facing in toward your body and the other away to maintain good bar control. Push your feet into the floor, drive up through your hips as you stand up tall, pulling the weight with you and keeping your arms straight. Then slowly lower again and repeat. Ensure you use your gluts to drive up and maintain a strong neutral lower back. This is a great exercise for strengthening your arms and legs as well.
The following are evidence-based benefits of incorporating deadlifts into your training program such as reduced lower back pain, improved jump performance, improved bone mineral density, activation of your core, boost in your metabolism, carry less risk during failed repetitions and offers simplicity of equipment.
The Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a foundation barbell lift used to develop the strength of the posterior chain muscles, including the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. When done correctly, the RDL is an effective exercise that helps strengthen both your core and the lower body with one move. It is important to have a good starting position with a neutral back being maintained throughout the lift.
Romanian deadlift is one of many effective exercises for building muscle in your back and lower body. The primary muscles worked in the RDL are your lower back, gluteals, and hamstrings. The secondary muscles worked in the RDL are your adductors, trapezius, and grip.
The RDL increases strength in all of the muscles involved in such movements, whilst enhancing movement patterning. RDL exercises can even help resist injury caused by lower back stress and/or dysfunctional loading by increasing gluteal, hamstring, and lower back strength and coordination. It is a great exercise to help reduce your back pain.
The bent over row is a great exercise to work the back muscles, but also works on trunk stability and hip stability. The bent over row involves stabilisation of the midline through the lift and is static, this starting position does not add excessive strain to the shoulders. It isolates the muscles in the back, lats, shoulders, gluteals and hamstrings, which makes it an ideal tool for strengthening and stabilising the shoulder, strengthening the core and building a strong neurological connection through the body.
The bent over row is a multi-jointed exercise that recruits several different muscles. It improves strength in the upper body and lower back, gluteals, hamstrings, lats and shoulders.
As we know back pain is one of the most common complaint in golfers of all ages. The golf swing places stress on your low back as you hold a bent over posture, then rotational forces need to be transmitted from your lower body to your upper body to develop club head speed. It is really important to have a strong back and core to connect your hips and shoulders. The connection of your hips and shoulders form the X factor in your golf swing.
At Elastic Golf we place a huge emphasis on effective back exercises as it is vital to have a strong back for golf. Back exercises can be core based with movement control or heavy weight lifting exercises. Where you start depends on the strength of your lower back muscles and lifting capacity.
If you have chronic back pain it is highly likely your lower back muscles are wasted and weak. It is important you develop your exercise routine with gentle core exercises to start developing the strength of your lower back muscles. It is important to strengthen gradually developing back extensors and abdominal strength. Slowly increase your lifting capacity and lift with good technique.