Backcare – Tips For On Course Care
ON AND OFF COURSE BACKCARE
Last issue we discussed the effect of poor position on your spine and the necessity for doing some kind of warm up before you play – including stretching the joints and muscles. To minimise the unavoidable stress placed on your spine we need to look at other points in the average golfing day where slight adjustments can decrease these undesirable forces.
The main way to prevent an injury to the spine is to keep it in its neutral alignment as far as possible, and keep the deeply placed lower abdominal muscles tightened. This is important when performing all the activities involved in the game, from lifting your clubs or teeing up, to slurping a well – earned bowl of noodles or standing in the clubhouse bar!
Proper body mechanics are also essential when standing and walking. Standing tall promotes good posture. Good posture should be comfortable and relaxed. The shoulders should be held gently down and back towards each other with the head aligned over the trunk.
Always think of protecting your back through all aspects of your game Tips for the golfing day
Driving to the course
Always try to support the natural curves in your back while driving, use a small towel or roll in the curve of your lower back. Sit well into the seat and consider bringing the seat one stop closer to the wheel to avoid sliding forward. This can reduce the curve in your low back.
Flying to a golfing destination?
Avoid sitting for a long time in a cramped seat. Keep the curve in your lower back by using a lumbar support such as a small pillow or roll. Get up frequently and walk around. While standing bend backwards and stretch frequently.
Lifting and carrying your clubs
A common cause of back injury is unsafe lifting and handling of your golf bag and clubs.
Try to keep your bag as light as possible, remove all the items you do not require Ensure that the clubs are evenly distributed in your bag
If you have been sitting in one position for a long time stretch before lifting.
Always use a correct lifting technique. Stand close to the car/buggy/bag. Put the strap on your shoulder or hold both handles. To lift it bend your knees, tighten your tummy muscles and keep your back as straight as you can. Keep the bag close to your body and use your legs stand up in a single fluid movement. If you have to turn move your feet rather than twisting.
Carry your clubs across your back or use a double shoulder strap to give a more equally distributed weight across your shoulders. Otherwise alternate between the right and left shoulders when carrying
Pulling a trolley
When pulling keep handle close to your side to avoid your low back working against a rotational force.
If you push your cart keep it in front of you to ensure that your back muscles work symmetrically.
Always try to avoid bending over at the waist and therefore squat down as much as possible.
Retrieving ball from hole, picking up practice balls, repairing pitch marks
Use a deep or diagonal squat to remove the ball from the hole, pick up your practice balls or repair a divot.
An alternative method is “the golfers lift”. This technique can also be used for teeing up. Lifting the leg helps counter balance the weight of your body while making sure you maintain good spinal alignment.
Suction cup ball retrievers are available for use which avoids bending over all together.
Retrieving ball from water
Avoid bending from your lower back
Squat to lower your centre of gravity and adopt a wide base of support allowing for added mobility when reaching to retrieve your golf ball.
Raking Sandtrap or bunker
Avoid bending, reaching and twisting when raking the trap. Move your feet and legs in the direction you are raking
Sitting on bench (or at nineteenth hole!)
Sit back in bench with hips and lower back in contact with support to avoid unnecessary pressure on the discs in the lower spine.
Maintain an arch or lordosis in your low back.
Slow play – prolonged standing
Some people get low back pain when standing in one position for any length of time. This is because the low back tends to hang in an extreme position with an excessive curve. Keeping your stomach muscles tight helps reduce the curve and supports your pelvis and spine. Standing tall and stretching frequently helps to avoid stiffening up. Sit correctly if a bench is available.
Correct drinking posture
And so the day is done – but the risk is still there. When you have finished your round of golf – even if you have managed to remain pain-free you should not sit slouched at the bar or in a chair! The recently exercised joints of your back easily distort if they are held in a poorly supported position. It is not uncommon to hear stories from a person who has sat down to rest after a couple of hours on the driving range and then sometime later is transfixed by an excruciating pain when they try to get up.
After exercise, you should “cool down” by going through your stretches. Once sitting continue to maintain the curve in your low back and don’t slouch
Remember that if you look after your spine you will not only be able to achieve better control throughout your golf swing – but you will be able to continue playing for many more years to come! And now you can relax and raise the glass to your lips to celebrate being pain-free!
Sheilagh Anderson, Physiotherapist, Head of department