There are many believers that will tell you that golf is not an athletic event, and that it is unlikely that you will sustain a serious injury due to the fact that it is a non contact sport. These believers obviously haven’t played much golf. There is a tremendous amount of force that is placed on the spine during a golf swing. There are three planes of movement that a golfer is in during the swing. They are a sagittal ( holding your spine angle), transverse ( the rotational component), and frontal ( during the downswing there is a tilt laterally), and so to react to these sudden positional changes throughout the swing, a golfer must have a well balanced structural system to reduce the chances of injury to the spine. Swinging a golf club at 100 mph takes a tremendous amount of muscular control and timing to absorb the forces from a golf swing. It is no wonder that spinal injuries heads the list ahead of the elbow and wrist when we talk about golf related injuries.
Sprains and strains to the ligamentous and muscular system are very common in golfers, mainly because of overuse syndrome. But poor posture and a misaligned spine with inadequate neuromuscular control are also at the top of the list. The more serious injuries like degenerative disc disease (loss of disc height and space) which could include bulging or herniation, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), and spondylolisthesis (a forward slippage of one vertebrae over the other, usually at l-4- l-5 level), are chronic and debilitating problems of your spine, symptoms range from tingling down the legs, to numbness and then possibly nerve damage and bladder control problems.
As we age, all of us at some point will have degenerative changes concerning are spine, It is known that in our later years that we shrink an inch or two. This is because we have lost disc height and that the bones are closer together. But the point here is to slow down mother nature and preserve what we do have.
If you play the game long enough you will most likely have some aches and pains. But to avoid serious injuries it is important that you take care of your body by exercising regularly and correctly.
There are many ways to strengthen and balance out the body. You must first start with the core. Training the muscles that attach to the spine that act to stabilize the spine during static and dynamic state of being. Corrective exercises are given first in an isolated fashion so that we can work on stabilizing certain muscles while learning how to breathe with control using the diaphragm rather than the accessory muscles, where tension can build up. Then we then learn to integrate the movements using our extremities (arms and legs), while at the same time stabilizing our spine so that movement can be executed in a safe environment.
The next step is to challenge the body by adding unstable surfaces in order to restore balance using different planes of movement. By this we can use swiss balls, balance boards, dynadiscs and even a bungee cord, so that you must hold center while performing an open or closed chain activity.
If you are serious about the game of golf and about reducing the risk of spinal injury, please try and seek out a physical therapist or an experienced trainer for some help.