Any golfer, at any level, is prone to experience back pain related to this sport. Whether you’re pursuing a professional golf career or just a hobbyist, you can ask a pro golfer for tips on technique, skill and repetition to help prevent injury. It’s also common sense that the best exercises for your back are the ones that do not hurt. As a golfer, your spine and lower back are subject to many stresses, and some people suffer for a lifetime. But, a handful of easy exercises should build strength, keep you limber, and reduce the potential for pain and strain.
The 5 best exercises to strengthen your back:
#1 – Lunge
Stretching before any exercise regimen is key to effective workouts. After stretching, lunges are an easy transition into back-strengthening moves. Standing comfortably but straight, place your hands at your hips and contract your abs. Taking a big step forward with your right leg, lower yourself until your right knee bends to a 90° angle. Return to the standing position and repeat the lunge 10 to 12 times. Switch to the left leg and repeat as before.
You can increase the burn as you get stronger. Instead of lunging straight ahead, angle the right leg movement towards a 2 o’clock position and the left leg towards an 11 o’clock position. Lunges will improve surface and deep stabilizing muscles and build up the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads.
#2 – Knee-to-chest stretch
Tight hamstrings reduce your spine’s efficiency. Much of lower back pain can be attributed to hamstring problems. Lay flat and comfortably on a floor mat. With your hands behind both knees, pull them towards your chest. You should feel the stretch in your hamstrings until you relax and return your legs to their original position. Repeat the exercise 10 to 12 times.
Lie flat for a count of 60 breathing deeply and steadily. Lift your right knee only towards your chest as before. But, this time direct the right knee to your left shoulder. Alternate this motion with your left leg until you have repeated exercise with both sides 10 to 12 times. This twist on the first exercise will work the glutes as well as the hamstrings.
#3 – Chest lift
Lie flat face down on your mat. Place your hands flat to the floor even with your chest as if preparing for a push-up. Without raising the hips, pelvis, or thighs, use your arms to lift your chest from the floor. Keeping your head aligned with your spine, raise the upper body until your arms are straight. Repeat this 10 to 12 times; then, rest and repeat the set twice more. This contracts the same lumbar muscles you stretched on the earlier exercises.
#4 – Swimming
While you are face down on the floor, do a little swimming. At the same time, raise your left leg and right arm off the floor to about the same height and hold the position for about six seconds. Return leg and arm to the floor, and do the same with the right leg and left arm. Repeat this pairing 10 to 12 times, rest for a count of 60, and repeat the set twice more. This loosens your back extensors and tightens your glutes.
#5 – Bird dog
Position yourself on all fours with your arms extending right below the shoulders and legs right below the hips. Keeping your back level and still, raise your left leg straight behind you and stretch your right arm in front of you. Hold the position for 3 seconds, and lower leg and arm. Then, raise the right leg and left arm in the same way. Repeat the exercise in three sets of 10, alternating left and right.
These exercises are not aerobic and will not tax your cardio-pulmonary system or burn fat. But, they will stretch and build strength in critical areas of your lower back. Planning and following a schedule of these low-impact exercises will ease anyone into more assertive challenges and keep you on the course enjoying a round of 18 holes.