It must be noted that back injuries are very complex and treatment should be individually. Since there are no cookie-cutter or one-fits-all injuries, there is not a cookie-cutter treatment. I often cringe when I hear someone say that he or she threw my back out and then treat it as a non-event. They often only rest before resuming all activities, without paying any attention to treatment or prevention of future back problems. Many of my patients, when describing their medical history, list years of on and off back pain with either no or inadequate treatment. A mute point, but so often I wish we could go back in time to that first injury and set them on course to lessen or potentially prevent their current situation.
Taking care as I step off my soapbox (I dont want to injure my back!), the moral of the story is to take care of your back. Dont ignore little pulls or strains or throwing your back out; dont rush through your gym workouts ignoring your core for those muscles that make you look good; and most of all, dont skip that pre/post golf (or any sport) warmup or cooldown - it serves a very important purpose.
Now that Ive pleaded my case for focusing on your back and core, let me add that the following exercises are not meant for everyone. There are almost an infinite number of core-strengthening exercises. If you have had any back injuries in the past, a physical therapist will thoroughly examine your spine and provide specific exercises to meet your needs. I would advise you to attempt the following exercises as a warmup/cooldown to start with. If you have any pain, symptoms or questions or as you progress past these exercises, please seek advice from a PT to tailor exercises or treatment to your needs.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your lower abdominal muscles by drawing your belly button and ribs into your spine. Try to keep your legs and upper body relaxed to focus on abdominal contraction. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10-15 times. Once this becomes easy, advance to Abdominal Brace with Leg Lift (as pictured). While drawing your abdominal muscles tight, slowly raise one leg 1-2 inches off the floor. Hold several seconds and alternate legs with the focus on the abdominal muscles maintaining your back flat on the floor.
Lie on your side with your knees bent and your elbow propped underneath. Keep your shoulder, hips, and knees in one line. Tighten your abdominal muscles and rise up so only your bottom elbow/forearm and knees are on the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5-10 times on each side. Once this becomes easy, advance to Side Plank with Knees Straight (as pictured). Again, tighten your abdominal muscles and lift so that only your bottom elbow/forearm and foot touch the ground.
In quadruped position (on your hands and knees) draw your abdominal muscles tight. Unweight one leg from the ground by raising that hip 1 inch. Do not shift your weight to the opposite side. Hold 5 seconds and repeat 5-10 times on each side.
Perform a walking lunge by dropping your back kneecap toward the floor. Try to keep your ear, shoulder, hip, and knee in one vertical straight line. While lunging, reach forward across your body with that arm, focusing on maintaining your abdominal muscles tightened. Repeat 10-15 times on each side.
It is always important to stretch your main muscle groups. Specifically for golf, you want to stretch your hips, hamstrings, calves, low back, mid back, and shoulders. There is an abundance of information available on stretches, and I advise you to try several of them to find the stretches that best meet you needs.
Erin Booker, MPT, MTC, CSCS, is a GFM Advisory Team Member and Clinic Director for Physiotherapy Associates in Ocoee, Fl. For further information on Erin, log onto www.golffitnessmagazine.com/advisoryteam.
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