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Back Pain from Golf

Monday, June 13th, 2016


Those who love the sport are familiar with back pain from golf. As you can see in the picture, with the extreme rotation, a lot of stress is placed on your spine. Even a casual golfer on a par 3 is taking at least 27 swings, plus practice swings plus warm up swings on the range. You can easily put your spine through 150 high speed extreme ranges of motion on the golf course. Considering that, it is no wonder why you have back pain from golf.

There are several things you can do to avoid back pain from golf. The best advice I have is that the healthier you go into the season, the healthier you will come out of the season. If you have an extra 20 or even 40 lbs hanging of the front of your belly, that isn’t a good way to start the season. It intensifies the pressure placed on your spine during your swing. Though I don’t want to minimize the effort it takes to lose weight, its often the easiest and best way to make your back feel better.

Secondly, to avoid back pain from golf, keep your body loose and limber when you play. While I hate walking a course when it is super hot out, walking the course is much better for your back than driving in a cart. It keeps your muscles warm and active. If you ride in a cart for 18 holes, your body doesn’t ever limber up before your swing and once you are back in the cart, it’s another opportunity for it to stiffen up.

Third, stretch when you are done playing. I know that most people like to have a beer with their buddies when they finish their round. However, spending 3-5 minutes stretching after your round will save you a lot of pain later.

If you do find yourself in pain after a round of golf, call me. If we can’t get you in for an appointment right away, please at least ice to keep the inflammation down and walk to keep the mobility.

Back Pain and Pinched Nerve Pain During Golf

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Have you ever had back pain and pinched a nerve during golf? It hurts and early in the season it is more common than you think.

What causes back pain and pinched nerve pain during golf? Typically it is a result of spinal damage, poor technique or both. If your spine does not move properly on a segmental basis, meaning each vertebra needs to rotate, flex, extend and side bend on top of the others, it will be much more easily injured when brought through extreme ranges of motion. Also, if you have any prior history of disc disease or spinal injiury and arthritis of any sort, it is more likely to be easily injured. Is there hope for your golf game even with a little (or a lot) of spinal damage? Absolutely. Here are a few tips to get you golfing with less pain.

First, you need to properly warm up before you golf. This does involve being willing to look a little stupid in front of your friends so you will need to suck it up to feel good. I would suggest doing planks or sit ups to activate your core muscles and prepare them to contract during your golf swing. Doing walking lunges will also help warm up your legs and butt muscles. I also recommend doing spinal rotation while keeping your hips very still and quiet. Going back and forth several dozen times will help your body prepare for the extreme rotation associated with golf.

Secondly, you know your back always feels sore after your first few times golfing. Pre schedule your visit with your chiropractor before you hurt yourself. The old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies here. My patients that get adjusted regularly and take care of their spine with regular chiropractic care have better swing mechanics, less pain during their round and less recovery time. They end up playing a lot more golf in the season because they are not stopped by pain. Tiger Woods has had his own private chiropractor his entire career and while he has recently been sidelined, he has been quoted numerous times on what an invaluable member of his team his chiropractor has been.

Thirdly, make sure you have good swing technique. Don’t try to evaluate this yourself. A PGA pro will be the best person to help you improve your swing mechanics to avoid damaging your back.

At Active Family Chiropractic, we are always here to hep you feel better. Call us to schedule your appointment and let us know ahead of time if you would like to bring your golf club with for a swing analysis.

Preventing Golf Injuries and Back Pain-one Plymouth Chiropractor’s Perspective

Monday, August 5th, 2013

How can you avoid injuring your back and losing the second half of the season? Here are a few simple tips for you.

First, one of the biggest ways people injure their backs is by lifting their clubs out of the car. Flexion combined with rotation is the red zone where your back is the most vulnerable. Just being aware of this will make you less prone to golf injuries. Remember, lift with your legs, not your back. Don’t try to jerk the bag out of the car and make sure you break the motion down to two steps. Lift your bag, take a step backward and then rotate the clubs down to the ground. Two steps-not one.

Second, be at your fighting weight once the golf season rolls around. For many reading, it’s too late. What can you do now? Work on your conditioning by spending some time on the elliptical, treadmill, stair climber or bicycle. Improve your cardiovascular strength and lose those extra twenty pounds you have been carrying around the course for years. You won’t be able to lose it in the next month however your long term success is the goal. Also-crunches, planks, mountain climbers—any of these exercises will help improve your core strength and leave you less prone to injuring yourself. My website has pictures and instructions for each of these exercises.

Third, get to the course early so you can hit the range and warm up before heading off to the tee box. Start with your pitching wedge, then your nine iron, three iron, and finally your driver. The longer the lever, the greater the potential for injury. This applies to all sports, especially golf. Your longest club, your driver, has the potential to hurt your back the most. Make sure you’ve taken the time to get your muscles, joints and nervous system used to the forces of golf after a long day sitting down in front of your laptop.

Forth, good form with your golf swing will always trump the bad. Have someone teach you the proper way to swing your clubs using good posture. Your chances of injury will be far less, your score will drop and golf lessons are fun!

Finally, if you had stiffness and soreness last year, odds are, you are going to have it again. Just like any injury, unless properly treated, spinal injuries will reoccur. Be proactive and find a good chiropractor before you get injured. I would recommend finding one that specializes in athletes, keeps the focus on delivering specific and skilled chiropractic adjustments and one who hasn’t signed contracts to become in-network with your insurance company to treat you only when you are in pain. Having a skilled chiropractor on your health care team will help your spine rotate more freely, will have your body align better so that your golf swing is less affected by poor biomechanics, and keep you playing golf longer without injuring your back further.

Following these tips will help you enjoy a longer season of golf unrestricted by pain.

Healthy Backs for Golfers

Friday, October 5th, 2012

This article is going to cover tips for healthy backs for golfers.  As the leaves change color and the fall air turns crisp, we all know what’s coming around the corner. If you are truly committed to improving your golf game, it’s important to think now about improving on this season’s progress throughout the winter.

Coming in to fall, there are three things I would recommend as a chiropractor to consider this time of the year.

#1—What am I going to do in the off season when I can’t golf to maintain or improve my level of physical fitness? Perhaps you need to focus on losing 20lbs, improving your core strength or becoming more flexible. Think about the physical element that is holding you back the most and take action! Now is a great time to get registered for classes, fire up that gym membership you put on hold during the summer or hire a personal trainer. Everyone knows that if you are in good shape, your athletic performance will improve and you will be less apt to be injured while playing. Speaking of injuries…

#2—If your lower back or shoulders are begging for a break in play, this is your body’s way of telling you that you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Be proactive and deal with it before your body forces the issue. Don’t just wait to see if the issues improve on their own and above all else don’t relegate yourself to spending a beautiful fall and winter sitting on the couch unable to find physical activity that feels good. Pain is a warning sign that often doesn’t appear until your injury is stressed enough through healthy physical activity. Seeing a chiropractor who is well versed in athletic injuries as well as the specific needs of golfers is a great first step in pinpointing your needs and the proper treatment.

#3 Now is the time to think about improving your golf game during the winter. Golf lessons are a great way to work through any bad habits you may have developed throughout the season. These bad habits can add to your score and make you more susceptible to injuries-even for the most seasoned golfer. Many golf courses or lesson facilities offer lessons year round.

Plymouth, Chiropractor- Dr. Lori Goodsell has taken several post graduate courses in golf injuries and golf biomechanics and has spent many hours analyzing golf swings with the best golf pros in Minnesota. Dr. Lori Goodsell is one of the leading industry experts in returning you to your golf game quickly and safely. To reach Dr. Goodsell, call Active Family Chiropractic at 763-553-0387 or check out the website

Golf Stretches and other Tips for avoiding back pain

Friday, August 13th, 2010

80% of professional golfers have re-occurring back pain. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. When you add up the swings you take during your round including your shots and all of your practice swings, it ends of being a lot of one directional repetition. The golfers that I see tend to be really limber in one direction and very stiff in the other. There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid creating back problems while doing the sport you love.

Tip 1-Warm your body up BEFORE you golf. This does NOT mean stretch. A lot of us rush to the course after work, hop out of our car hoping not to be late and run up to the first tee to take our swings. Next time you golf, try this. Start with spinal twists-spread your feet shoulder with apart, interlace your fingers, point your hips forward and rotate your shoulders INDEPENDENTLY of your hips. This will help loosen up your spine. Second–Try some walking lunges. This will help loosen up your hips and start firing your muscles. Lastly, try some standing crunches to activate your abs. While your standing, grip your finger tips LOOSELY behind your head. Crunch your opposite elbow to your opposite hip. Do about 15 of these on each side. Now you are ready to golf!

Tip 2-While you are out on the course, take a practice swing in the opposite direction before each hole. This will counter the effects of always swinging the same way. More and more we are seeing the pros on the tour do this. It will help keep you limber in BOTH directions.

Tip 3-Stretch yourself out after you golf before your body has a chance to cool down. Try a gentle forward fold while dropping your head down to stretch your back and hamstrings. Make sure you stretch your hip flexors out doing a lunge as well and holding it. Any seated spinal rotation stretch you can do would help too. Most people don’t hold their stretches long enough. Stay in your stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.

If you have any questions on how to customize a stretching plan for yourself and your sport, call me. I’m happy to help!

Tips from a Golf Pro- Good address position

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Nick Pelle is one of Minnesota’s top golf pros. I work with him at GolfTec in Minnetonka, MN. I’ve spent a lot of time at GolfTec and Nick’s clients love him. Here is a great article that he wrote for my golfers. He can be reached at952-546-1423

A good golf swing begins with a good address position. Even so, I see so many people come in for lessons with poor address positions. Fortunately, a little practice at home or in the office in front of a mirror will help you break your old bad habits and form new good ones.

Of all the golfers I see, I generally see the same three set up mistakes. The first of these mistakes is open shoulders at address. If you slice the ball, you may feel that lining up to the left will allow your slice room to work to the middle of the fairway. However, this is not the case, and in fact, you are setting up to hit an even bigger slice! Through our research, we have found that the tour players set their shoulder only 5 degrees open, but Ive seen golfers set their shoulders as much as 30 degrees open at address. Thats going to be a big slice. The second mistake I often see is a poor posture. Golfers slump over themselves like they are watching TV on their sofa, rather than trying to hit a golf ball. Having a straight back at address is essential for providing power, balance and control for the rest of the golf swing. Finally, the last flaw in most golfers address positions is a poor stance. Most golfers have their stance either open to their target (to the left for right-handed golfers) or closed (to the right for right-handed golfers) with either their feet too close together or too far apart.

Dont worry, help is on the way. For starters, practice at home for about 5 minutes per day in front of a mirror with a club down along your foot line, and your new address position will become comfortable before you know it. First, take your stance. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart for a 5-iron. Your right foot should be at a 90-degree angle to your target line, and your left foot should be slightly flared open toward your target about a quarter turn, or about 20 degrees. This will prevent you from over turning on your backswing, and will promote a proper hip turn and post up on your left leg at impact. Next, take your posture. Make sure you bend from the hips, not the waist. Bending from the waist causes a hunched back. It should feel you are sticking your butt out. This will allow your arms to hang straight down from your shoulders. Where your arms hang is where you will grip the golf club. Finally, work on aligning your shoulders parallel to the club and tilt your spine slightly away from your target. The feeling I like to achieve is my right eye over my right knee. Now you are in a position that the pros would love!

Tips from a golf pro for lowering your score.

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Score over 100? Improve your Balance and Swing Tempo

Ingrid Gallow is one of Minnesota’s best golf pros. I work with her at Begin Oaks in Plymouth, MN. I’ve observed many of her lessons and she is a great teacher. Here is a great article that she wrote for my golfers. She can be reached through her website at or at 763-404-8288

What distinguishes an advanced golfer from a new one (besides score)? Good tempo, a smooth swing. It’s a pleasure to watch because everything looks synchronized and the club moves through the air without a hitch.

The average score in the United States is 100. For men, it’s 97, for women, 114. Many golfers who score in this range need help with their technique, and a common flaw is that they don’t swing in good balance.

Seldom do we have a flat piece of ground to hit from on the golf course. Even so, you can observe gofers on a driving range and few of them are addressing their golf balls in good balance at the start. They are either standing too close to the ball, or too far away. They are either on their heels or their toes. And that is before they even swing at the ball!

Good posture starts you in good balance.

Your posture at address should be an automatic slight bend from the hips so that you maintain a straight back with a relaxed arm hang and slight knew flex. Your width of your feet depends on the size of your swing. For small shots around the green, it’s narrow. For a full (iron) swing, your heels will be shoulder width, your weight distribution will be equal on both feet and you should feel stable over the arches of your feet.

For some reason, many golfers feel that they need to have an excessive knee bend. This moves your weight back to your heels. When you address the golf ball, you should be able to take a quick look at your feet and see all of your shoelaces. If you are bending your knees too much, they will l hide your shoelaces, as you look downward.

When you are in the correct position, your arms hang down freely from your shoulders, not touching your body. The end of your golf cub will be about four to six inches from your waist, or about a stretched hand away from your body. You should feel as though your hands are directly under your chin or nose.

Tempo- or Speed of the Swing Maintains good Balance.

It’s fair to say that no two golfers swing like one another, but choose someone to emulate who has good tempo.

To swing the golf club smoothly during the backswing, your hands, arms and s left shoulder should move back in one unit. Often, if the grip pressure is too weak, the golfer doesn’t develop a sensation of control of the club head. If it is too strong, the golfer usually picks the club up during the backswing and uses too much body in the downswing, causing the arc of the swing to cut across the ball.

You should hold the club so that it’s secure in your hands, just tightly enough so that no one could take the club away from you. Your shoulders should always be relaxed, at your address and throughout the golf swing. Tension in the upper body always kills good tempo.

As you move your arms and shoulders back in one unit, your target knee will move inward of the golf ball as your right hip turns. Your thumbs will point away from target and your wrists will begin to hinge around waist high. At the top of your backswing, your hands will be higher than your right shoulder, and for some golfers, their target (left) heel will be slightly off the ground.

How fast does this occur? Well, it takes about a count to two and you should be at the top of your full swing.

To start the downswing, most people make the mistake of starting with their upper bodies. You actually lead the downswing by planting your target heel down on the ground first. Your left knee or hip really initiates the downward move of your arms. All of that takes the count of one.

So it takes s two counts to go up and one to get back to impact. Ready, aim, fire! Or, one, two, three at impact!

Many golfers try to go up on the count of one and down on the count of two. This one-two rhythm only works for putts and chips. If you try that with a full swing, your downswing will look choppy, and typically, your club head will be coming down at too steep of an angle towards the ball, creating a swing path that goes from outside to inside. This results in a slice.

Consistency of Ball striking Improves with Better Balance

There are so many variables in golf- the uneven terrain, the weather, the social dynamics of the group you are playing with. The good golfer always is able to adjust to his/her environment because they are in tune with their balance. They are body aware and they are club head aware. This is particularly true for golfers who started the game as children.

You can acquire this awareness with proper instruction and simply, with regularity of practice. The more you handle a golf club, the more it feels natural in your hands.
You need the instruction to understand how the face of the club operates during the swing. You need to learn how to shallow out your impact zone so you approach the ball in the downswing is roughly the same way every time.

Understanding the simple mechanics of the swing allows you to focus on making the same body moves to operate the golf club throughout the swing. It tempers your urge to attack the ball from the top of the swing rather than just before impact.

A good drill to notice your balance is one in which you hold your finish for two seconds each time you hit a ball. This allows you to determine if your weight transferred to the target leg or if you fell backwards onto your right leg. If you cannot hold your finish, it’s time for your instructor to take a look at your swing.

Ingrid Gallo is a member of the LPGA. She is currently Director of instruction at Begin Oaks Golf Course in Plymouth. You can reach her at

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