By Peter Harris Special to the Valley News
Back injuries are a hot topic this week during the PGA Championship at Valhalla Country Club in Kentucky, where Tiger Woods status is up in the air until his tee time. He’ll either be in or out of the tournament, or if in, may not make it out without back pain and becoming the story anyway.
How do you prevent back injuries in golf?
There are a few golf swing characteristics that are common culprits that cause the bad back.
The Reverse “C” swing style was common in era of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Paul Azinger and some greats who came before them. It is also common among junior golfers seeking power and to get the ball airborne.
The Reverse “C” is where you finish your golf swing with a big arch in your back and spine tilted away from the target and chest facing the sky. The Reverse “C” puts excessive compression and shear force on the lower lumbar. It’s usually the result of too much leg drive and is not really optimal for power and accuracy or the longevity of your game.
The Reverse Spine Angle swing characteristic is when your torso or spine is tilted too much toward the target at the top of the backswing.
On the downswing the torso will move away from the target setting up a massive crunch to the lower lumbar at impact and usually resulting in a monster divot and low launching and high spinning shot. This swing style is a sure fire way to find the couch as your only venue to enjoy golf.
Finally, the golf fitness world has coined the phrase “S” posture for golfers with too much of an arch in the lower spine at the address position.
Basically, this golfer may be sticking the butt out too much at address and tilting the cheeks at the sky too much. By doing so, you are basically telling your gluteus and abs to take time off from doing any work during the golf swing, placing excessive force on your lower back.
“S” Posture can lead to Reverse Spine Angle and other swing faults that will force you to ice your back at the end of your round.
Have no fear though; the above swing characteristics are spinal disc injury related. Most back aches and pains in golf are muscle and tendon strains and just require the doctor’s likely advice of time, ice or heat and anti-inflammatory to feel better.
So, enjoy the season’s final major championship and avoid any backbreaking work or the straw that broke the camel’s back and we’ll have to see if Tiger gets the chance to play for his 15th major victory.