Is Back Pain Ruining Your Golf Game?

Swing faults that may cause or contribute to your lower back pain.

Peer Reviewed

Low back pain represents one of the most common and costly diagnoses the health profession manages on a continuous basis. It is one of the most common reasons to visit a physician, physical therapist or chiropractor. People who play golf may find their lower back body-swing connection causes back pain. Here are common swing faults that may contribute to your lower back pain.
Male golfer holding his golf club in mid swing.People who play golf may find their lower back body-swing connection causes back pain. Photo Source: The golfer was told to stick their rear-end out and they do this by going into excessive hyperlordosis (arching of the lower back). This is called a S-Posture and it immediately inhibits the abs and glutes. Or they may have a lower crossed syndrome and the same inhibition occurs.

Reverse Spine Angle: The golfer's spine or trunk appears to tilt towards the target at the top of the backswing. The golfer uses their erector spine muscles (back muscles) to go into extension on the backswing, which will directly affect the rate and amount of excessive stress the lumbar spine will be subjected to on the downswing. This puts the golfer in a very stress-inducing position creating excessive compression and shear loads on the vertebrae through impact.

Early Extension: Early extension is a term given to a swing fault in which the lower body fails to rotate from the top of the backswing to follow-through. The hips/pelvis do not turn toward the target. The spine posture will extend, during which the head rises upward and the pelvis moves toward the initial ball position. The spine's muscles become overactive and force the spine into rapid extension. Signs of early extension include forward movement of the lower body toward the golf ball. In early extension, the golfer cannot see his lead glute (left side) or leg at impact.

early extension, golf swing
Early Extension
early extension, golf swing
Ideal Position

Photos Courtesy of: The Healthy Back Institute

If the golfer was filmed from down the line (for a right-handed golfer, view from their right-side facing the target), you should be able to see their lead leg/glute (the golfer's left side) at the impact position and follow-through.

Poor Right Leg Follow-Through: The golfer does not release his trail side during the downswing and after impact. This creates unnecessary torque in the lower back. Also termed, hanging back, in which there is poor weight transfer from the top of the back swing through impact to the finish position.

Reverse "C" Finish: Finishing the swing in a full hyperextension position puts undue compressive and shear loads on the lumbar vertebrae (lower right facet joints).


Gerard Malanga, MD
Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Rutger's University-New Jersey Medical School
Newark, NJ

Dr. Duvall reviews some of the common errors seen in the novice golfer. The vast majority of these problems would be corrected with one or two sessions working with a professional golfer. Many of the problems are set up and postural in nature—for example, S-posture and deviation of the golfer's center of gravity off the ball requires the golfer to make changes in their swing to make ball contact.

It is interesting as well, that most of these deviations will result in poor ball contact and therefore, a disappointing golf shot. Getting instruction on the proper setup and golf swing is not only helpful to reduce low back pain, but it will also result in a better game of golf!

Updated on: 08/27/19
Continue Reading
Getting Your Golf Game Back After Spine Surgery
Gerard Malanga, MD
New Jersey Sports Medicine, LLC
New Jersey Regenerative Institute
Continue Reading:

Getting Your Golf Game Back After Spine Surgery

As you begin golfing again, don’t just focus on your stroke—listen to your body. The main red flag to watch out for when golfing after spine surgery is.....
Read More