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Oct 11, 2021

Keeping you in the Game

The golf swing is meant to be a powerful movement, therefore, it is not surprising that injury is very common among golfers. Injury in golf can be due to overuse or swing characteristics caused by body limitations. As a result, certain areas of the body can be over stressed throughout the golf season. Two common injuries in amateur golfers are low back pain and tennis elbow. Here are some tips on how to avoid the swing characteristics that may cause these injuries and limit your golf game.

Low Back Pain

One of the most common swing characteristics that can cause low back pain is Reverse Spine Angle. This occurs at the top of the back swing and is identified when the torso is bending toward the target. In this position, there is excessive tension on the low back due to abdominal muscles not being activated and a rapid change in direction during the downswing to return the club to the golf ball.

This characteristic can be caused by the inability to rotate your upper and lower body separately, poor trail leg hip mobility, and poor core strength. There are many other body limitations that can cause this swing characteristic. There are also many corrective exercises that can be performed to help. Below are a few of our top exercises for golfers who are working to reduce low back pain caused by reverse spine angle.

Torso back swing in neutral pelvis

  • Setup in golf posture with arms crossed in front of you while holding onto a dowel rod (a golf club, yard stick or PVC pipe work great for this).
  • Find your neutral pelvis by tilting your pelvis forward and backward until you find the middle position.
  • Take a full backswing while maintain your pelvis in the same position.
  • Return to setup posture and repeat.
  • 3 sets, 10 repetitions

Bird Dog

  • Begin on hands and knees; hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Modify by positioning bent over with hands on a counter and feet on floor.
  • Find your neutral pelvis by tilting your pelvic forward and backward until you find the middle position.
  • Straighten one arm and opposite leg at the same time, making sure not to come out of neutral pelvis.
  • Hold briefly, then return to starting position.
  • Repeat with opposite arm and leg.
  • 3 sets, 10 repetitions

Tennis Elbow (not just for tennis)

A common characteristic that can cause tennis elbow (pain at the outside of the elbow) is Chicken Winging. This is loss of extension during impact at the lead elbow. This motion will cause an excessive stress to your wrist extensor muscles that are located on the outside of the elbow. In addition to pain this can also lead to high weak shots during a round. The main contributors to this characteristic include limited lead arm shoulder strength and mobility or a faulty swing path caused by other swing characteristics. Below you can find two exercises to work on shoulder mobility and strength to limit this swing characteristic.

External rotation stretch

  • Begin standing upright, elbows bent to 90 degrees, and holding onto a dowel rod (a golf club, yard stick or PVC pipe work great for this).
  • Using the dowel rod to guide the motion, rotate your arm away from your body without changing the angle of the elbow.
  • Return to starting position and repeat
  • 3 sets, 10 repetitions

Wall angels

  • Begin standing with back against wall, arms out to the side, and elbows bent.
  • Slowly raise arms up while trying to maintain contact with wall.
  • Return to starting position, repeat.
  • 3 sets, 10 repetitions

It is important to note that not every golfer has the same swing characteristics caused by the same body limitations, therefore, they should not have the same exercise program. A personalized program is the best way to ensure you stay injury free and on the course during the golf season. One way to determine your body’s strengths and weaknesses and how they may be affecting your golf swing is through the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) golf screen. If you would like more advice on a personalized exercise program or would like to learn about how to receive a TPI golf screen please contact Mackenzie Banwart PT, DPT, Titleist Performance Institute Certified at 563-449-7004.