Playing with low back pain For the millions
of people who have chronic, long-standing low back pain, golf can still be an
enjoyable sport. However, a regular routine of stretching and low-impact
exercise is critical to maintain the ability to play.
· Stretching and maintaining flexibility
will be even more important to individuals with low back pain in order to
prevent further injury or muscle strain. Individuals with chronic low back pain
tend to lose flexibility, and if a stretching program is not maintained on a
daily basis, the resulting loss in flexibility will lead to further low back
· Staying well-conditioned aerobically will
also help lessen discomfort and keep the individual more functional and allow
them to enjoy golf. Low-impact aerobic conditioning, such as walking or
stationary biking, are both gentle on the back and are usually well tolerated.
This type of exercise should be done for 30 to 40 minutes at least three
times weekly. Many golfers continue to play as they age, and most expect to be
able to continue to play during their retirement years. Unfortunately, some
elderly individuals will develop conditions such as spinal stenosis or
degenerative spondylolisthesis, which makes it very difficult for them to walk
any significant distances. For those individuals who have difficulty walking the
course because of pain, using a golf cart is a perfectly reasonable option.
Although they will lose the advantage of the exercise they would get walking the
course, riding will allow them to continue to enjoy golfing.
People with spinal stenosis or degenerative spondylolisthesis can maintain
their aerobic conditioning with stationary biking, which is usually a better
tolerated form of exercise than walking. Older golfers are probably less likely
to develop low back pain from the golf swing since they do not try to develop
the same degree of torque (as they did when they were younger). Additionally,
modification of the swing may be necessary in the injured or elderly athlete.
Modifications typically comprise a relaxed posture, 31-inch back swings,
increased hand action and a shorter finish.