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Three post-round stretches for your lower back

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A round of golf is often enjoyable, but for many golfers lower back pain creeps in on the back nine. A good afternoon turns in to a struggle to finish your round. Even worse, low back discomfort will disrupt your consistency and ultimately drive your score up.

I call this the dreaded “Back Nine Fade.”

When you are tired or aching, it’s hard to deliver a consistent strike to the golf ball. Low back pain can be caused by a combination of a weak core, tight muscles and even overly strong muscles. A sedentary lifestyle (sitting at a desk all day) is most likely the cause of most golfers’ problems.

While some back issues require chiropractic care or surgery to alleviate pain, most low back pain can be fixed during the course of a few months. Performing the proper exercises, stretches and mobility drills can help bullet-proof your low back. However, be sure you talk to your doctor or chiropractor before performing any sort of physical exercise routine.

The best place to begin bullet-proofing your low back is by implementing an “after round” stretch to provide relief from stiff muscles. Not only will you get instant relief from the stiffness, you will actually be performing preventative maintenance.

It’s important to note that stretching is just one part of the total equation.

Proper Stretches + Proper Strength Training = Healthy Low Back

While the stretches (provided later in this article) will get you standing up straight after a long day on the links, you need to consider adding a consistent core fitness routine. In fact, Dr. Stuart McGill suggests that people who are able to hold a plank for two minutes are much less likely to experience any type of back pain.

Although we don’t cover a core strengthening program in this article, I felt it necessary to suggest it along with the following after round stretching program below.

The following routine can be done in the locker room or when you get back to your home. I recommend doing these exercises once you get home because driving home might cause your low back to tighten up again. Besides, doing a downward dog in the 19th hole won’t win you any friends.

Top three stretches to do AFTER your round of golf:

  • Butterfly stretch for 60 seconds
  • Downward dog for 60 seconds
  • Kneeling hip flexor for 60 seconds

Bonus Stretch

  • Backswing angel for 60 seconds

Perform the above circuit with no rest between stretches. Repeat if you wish or are feeling extra tight.

Butterfly Stretch

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butterfly-stretch-2

  • Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet together.
  • Hold your toes down with your hands.
  • Tuck your chin and pull your forehead toward your toes.
  • Feel your groin, but put emphasis on your lower back.
  • Hold for a count of eight.
  • Repeat for required number of sets.

Downward Dog

downward-dog

Really focus on calf muscles and try to get heels to touch floor. This may take time, but is integral in helping to create more power, length and tension in your swing.

  • Come to your hands and knees with the wrists underneath the shoulders and knees underneath the hips.
  • Next, curl the toes under and push back raising the hips and straightening the legs.
  • Spread the fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips.
  • Outwardly rotate the upper arms broadening the collarbones.
  • Let the head hang, move the shoulder blades away from the ears toward the hips.
  • Engage the quadriceps strongly to take the weight off the arms, making this a resting pose.
  • Rotate the thighs inward, keep the tail high and sink your heels towards the floor.

Kneeling Hip Flexor

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kneeling-hip-flexor-2

Tight hip flexors cause bad backs, monkey butts and athletic inferiority. When flexors are tight, they do not allow your glutes (strongest muscle in the body) to exert themselves efficiently.

  • Kneel on floor and face forward.
  • Your torso and front shin should remain upright for the duration of the stretch and hips should remain squared.
  • Flex your abs to protect your back.
  • Once the tension is released you will begin to sag down.

Let’s take this a step further so you can see how this can impact your backswing.

  • Leaning forward, place your hands on your knee not letting your knee drift forward.
  • Begin to twist and look out, do not look down.

Backswing Angel

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Muscles: Rhomboids (upper back), posterior deltoids (shoulders)

  • Stand with your back against a wall. Your feet should be six inches away from the wall and your butt, upper back and head should all be in contact with the wall at all times in the exercise.
  • Stick your hands up overhead. Try to keep your shoulders, elbows and wrists in contact with the wall at all times.
  • Slide your arms down the wall and tuck your elbows into your sides. This should bring your shoulder blades down and together. You should feel a strong contraction in the muscles between your shoulder blades as well as the shoulder muscles.
  • Again, try to keep everything in contact with the wall.
  • From the bottom position, try to slowly slide your arms up until they are straight and in a “stick-em up” position. Again, try to keep everything in contact with the wall.
  • Try to improve your range of motion in this exercise each week.
  • The goal is to improve shoulder mobility and postural control.

TIP: This exercise can also be performed laying flat on your back on the ground. It might be easier for you to start on your back at first and work up to the standing version.

Give this routine a try and please post a comment. I would love to hear from you and if these stretches helped you. In addition, feel free to suggest stretches or exercise that have helped minimize or eliminate your low back pain.

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Christian Henning is a professional golf fitness coach and president of GetGolfFit. Chris has embarked on a mission to help 1 million golfers by the year 2020 to improve their health and play the greatest game of them all longer. His golf fitness books and workout programs have sold thousands of copies on Amazon and directly through his getgolffit.com website. Currently, his Facebook page has over 12,000 fans and continues to grow. Typically, golfers who begin Chris's golf fitness workouts gain 10 yards on their irons within 30 to 45 days and improve overall mobility and health. My Mission - http://www.30yardsin30days.net/hit-ball-further/about_us.html Blog - http://getgolffit.com Fat Loss - http://www.shedpoundstoshavestrokes.com/ Distance - http://getgolffit.com/core-to-score/

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Vincent Frigon

    Oct 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Finally !! I’ve been searching around for that kind of exercises for a while now, since I know I got lower back problems from my golf and having to drive a lot for my job I knew it was a problem of tight muscles in my hips (illiacus) but nobody I was asking had real exercises to fix this. Will defenitely give it a try for the next couple of months ! A Strenght training to complete that article would be awesome !

    Thanks !

  2. callmehandsum

    Oct 11, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I’m short, 5’6″, and stiff, but fairly young (31). I cannot perform the Backswing Angel correctly due to my stiffness. I can’t keep my wrists flat against the wall throughtout the exercise. Should it be my goal to eventually be able to keep my wrists flat or just to do the best that I can?

    • tiger168

      Oct 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      Answer: Bikram YOGA!!!

    • PeavyDPT

      Oct 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      These exercises more often than not will be beneficial to most populations as they target muscle groups that are prone to decreased length/tightness. Kudos to Christian for hitting these muscle groups that are so susceptible to tightening up. I especially like the downward dog stretch as it targets the latissimus dorsi which ties the lumbar spine through its attachment to the thoracolumbar fascia to the shoulder complex. The muscle can limit shoulder external rotation and flexion (required of the full golf swing).

      Moreover, as positive as these are; they are general. I’m biased, but would highly recommend seeing a physio or physical therapist that can perform a thorough examination of your muscles and joints and give you a customized stretching program and/or provide joint mobilization/manipulation to restricted joints. After all everybody has a different body type and different tendencies throughout their mobility in a day both functionally and recreationally.

      Thanks for the post Christian, will be sure to try these after my round Sunday and recommend to some of my patients/clients next week.

    • Christian Henning

      Oct 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

      Yes, it’s just going to take time. Try to get a little more flat each day. You can also try this laying on the floor. Lying on the floor is a bit easier.

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Stickney: Sit on it (for a better backswing)

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As we know golf, is a very tough sport and one that involves many moving pieces. Whenever something overreacts or moves too much on the way back, you end up playing catch-up on the way down. One of my favorite things to watch is how the head moves or doesn’t move on the backswing. Sure, you can have some movement, but you can’t have too much or you put yourself behind the eight ball.

I have charted the head position of a tour player at address and we can see that this is a very normal set up position. It is one that looks positioned to do great things.

However, en route to the top, you can see that this player has put himself into a position where his rear knee straightened too rapidly off the start of his backswing. When this occurs the pelvis “runs out from under” the upper body on the backswing the hips will react and begin to slant downward. (You can see a -10 degree tilt versus 3 degrees the opposite way at address for you number people.)

This causes the head to move out in front of where it was at address. This is not a bad position for the irons but for a driver we have a pending issue. If you don’t make a compensation from here then the player will have an angle of attack that is too much downward through impact with their driver.

As the player moves into his transition, the hips have leveled as the rear shoulder lowers the club into delivery but the head and pelvis are still too far out in front of the ball. The only thing you can do from here is fire the lead side upwards and hope that your head falls back into the correct position. If so, you will have the correct angle of attack, if not, you will chop down on the ball causing your launch conditions to be faulty.

And as we see here that this is precisely what this player did at the very last minute…not the easiest way to swing the club but it is functional IF you make the right correction. So, now that you understand how simple things like the action of the lower body can cause your head to move and your angle of attack to become faulty, what is the secret to controlling your lower body?


Just “sit” on the rear knee flex slightly longer during the backswing as you see here. This will slow down the tilting of the pelvis on backswing and thus your head will stay more in position en route to the top.

Personally, I teach both flexion and extension of the rear knee to the top, depending on what the player is wanting to do, so it really does not matter. However, what does matter is the rate at which it begins to straighten for those of you who do allow it to lengthen. I try to make most of my students hold the most of their address flex until the club moves between belt and chest high, any sooner and you risk the faulty pivot we saw above.

Therefore, take it from me and “sit on it” slightly longer for more quiet head motions as well as a more balanced backswing—your angle of attack will thank you!

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Davies: Training the trail elbow in the golf swing

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Alistair Davies shares with you how to get the correct trail arm and elbow action in the downswing. He shares some great drills that can be done at the range or at home to help lower your scores.Get the correct training for the trail arm here today!

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The important lessons you can learn from Peter Senior’s golf swing

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He may not be a household name in the United States, but Australia’s Peter Senior has a swing for the ages. At 60 years old, Senior has 34 worldwide professional wins including the 2015 Australian Masters beating a competitive field with several top-ranked players in the world. Turning professional in 1978, his career has spanned over 40 years.

Senior’s game and swing have stood the test of time, and the longevity of his career should be recognized. Senior formerly worked with Australian instructor Gary Edwin, and the structure to this swing taught to Senior paved the way for a future of consistent, high-quality professional golf.

Having a great golf swing isn’t the only key to becoming a great golfer, one must learn to play the game. However, you can learn a lot from Senior’s swing.

The origin to Senior’s swing lies in his set-up. Senior sets up in what I call his “hitting angles” or a position that mirrors impact.

From this position, Senior is able to simply keep these angles he established at address throughout the swing. This is why the set-up is so critical. The further he deviates from these “hitting angles”, the more he will have to find that impact position with his body in the backswing and downswing. In other words, more movement. The goal of his backswing will be to maintain these original starting angles.

From the picture, Senior has maintained his original body shape that he established at address. From this position, it will be much easier and repeatable to return the club to impact.

Note how his impact position now mirrors his original address position. All his original angles were maintained with a slight bump of the body towards the target. From impact, he can simply fold up his arms as his right side of his body rotates around his left side, keeping the clubface square to the body.

This standing tall finish position with the head following the torso is much easier on the back. His body has come forward and around beautifully, covering the ball for a proper strike.

The beauty of Senior’s swing lies in its simplicity. The changes Senior made to his swing can apply to anyone. Let’s look at two simple drills to make your swing more efficient and powerful.

“To a large extent, my backswing is a product of my set-up position” – Tiger Woods, Golf Digest 2020

To get into these impact angles simply practice pushing into an impact bag with the head and shaft of the club. Make sure your trail arm is tucked, lowering the trail shoulder as you pressure the bag.

To get the feeling of the proper coil from this set-up position, grab an impact bag and hold the bag in front of you.

From here, swing the bag around you with your arms keeping the top of the bag level. You will feel the trail side of your body move back and the lead side move out, coiling around your spine angle.

The trail glute will also move back and around with this drill, a key move the great Ben Hogan used to pivot his body. To develop an efficient swing and a long, injury-free career, take note of Peter Senior’s key moves.

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