Fitness & Wellness

How to end lower back pain that affects your golf swing

Hint: Endless stretching won't get the job done.

Golfforever lower back best golf exercise

You may think you know the answer to alleviating lower back tightness related to golf... but no, it's not stretching.

Stretching can feel good, help loosen up your lower back, and make you feel ready to go in the moment—but what you may not realize is that without proper short and long term protocols, stretching can actually do more harm than good for you and your golf swing.

Why does your lower back get tight to begin with?

Lower back tightness is usually the result of a combination of factors. And low back pain can occur when the supporting structures aren't balanced and healthy.

Golfforever golfer backswing

Some factors contributing to tightness in the lower back include weak gluteal and core muscles, inflexible rotator cuff muscles and a lack of mobility in the upper back (thoracic spine). Sometimes it’s not a matter of those muscles, being weak, but rather some being much stronger than others which creates imbalances and tightness.

Of course, more serious, (but less common) underlying spinal conditions such as bulging or herniated discs or stenosis can also cause lower back tightness. But even these conditions respond to the approach we've laid out.

If you're dealing with lower back tightness or lower back pain from golf—or if you simply want to avoid it altogether—following the correct plan can be a life-changing decision.

The long-term solution to lower back pain, tightness in golf

When it comes to relieving lower back pain or golf-related tightness, the same general strategy applies.

1. Reestablish strength and tone to the muscles that support the back and increase mobility where it’s needed. It won’t take long to feel better overall, and you’ll eliminate the constant desire to stretch your lower back before, during, and after playing golf.

2. Follow a comprehensive, golf-specific strength training program to rebuild the support structure for your spine. Most exercises can be done at home with no equipment.

3. Be consistent with your golf fitness program, and within two to six weeks (depending on your condition and fitness level) you should start to see a noticeable decrease in the tightness of your lower back.

How do I start feeling better?

Before you’re able to see long-term results from a golf exercise program, there are some simple and safe movements and stretches you can do now to relieve lower back tightness.

The main focus should be on increasing mobility in the hips, shoulders, and thoracic spine—as well as flexibility in the glutes, hamstrings, piriformis, psoas, rotator cuff, and pectoral muscles.

To help, please explore the foundational exercises below…

Golf Mobility drills

Practicing the following mobility drills in healthy ranges of motion will result in decreased lower back tightness before and after playing golf. Generally, 10-12 repetitions on each side (when applicable) is sufficient.

1. Upper back extension exercise with a foam roller

Even though the focus of this exercise is on mobilizing the upper back, it will actually help to decrease pressure in the lower back, especially when swinging.

2. Lower trunk rotation on ground

This is a simple exercise and relatively safe position for the lower back during rotation. But pay careful attention when doing this, because while some lower back (lumber) rotation is OK, it’s easy to rotate too much and that can make things worse.

A key focus is to rotate through the hips with a light brace of the core muscles that protect your spine. When followed correctly, this is a great exercise to do before you play golf.

Golf stretching exercises

When combined with the proper strength and mobility program, stretching can safely promote the lengthening of your muscles. For stretches prior to playing golf, hold for about 15-20 seconds at a moderate intensity. Remember to breathe during the stretch.

1. Glute stretch

Even though the focus of this exercise is on mobilizing the upper back, it will actually help to decrease pressure in the lower back, especially when swinging.

2. Standing heel to buttock stretch

The psoas muscles (hip flexors) are attached to the front of the lumbar spine and can pull forward when tight to create lower back tightness. Tight psoas muscles can also increase the risk of injury during the golf swing.

The Standing Heel to Buttock Stretch targets those muscles and others.

The right approach can make all the difference

If you suffer from a tight lower back in golf, remember that a few one-off stretches can actually hurt your golf game instead of help. The real solution to preventing and permanently relieving lower back stiffness is a comprehensive, golf-focused strength and mobility exercise program.

Want to learn more? Visit GOLFFOREVER.COM to build flexibility, mobility, strength and more confidence in your game than ever before.

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All GOLFFOREVER content and exercises are presented with the expressed understanding that you should visit a doctor to determine the cause of any pain you may be feeling and in some rare cases that can include cancer, fractures, infection and more. It should also be understood that you are strongly advised to first receive clearance from a physician before following any exercises or advice presented on this site, and that Morning Read and its partner, GOLFFOREVER, are not liable for any injuries that may occur.