Just look at 24-year old Ricky Fowler, who has struggled with lower back pain for years. While the experts debate why such a young and fit pro is plagued with chronic pain, they often agree on common issues that contribute to pain in recreational and amateur golfers: flexibility, mobility and the mechanics of the swing.
A golf swing inherently creates torque on the lower back and hips. By improving whole-body flexibility, and mobility specifically in those areas, (especially the L5-S1region of the spine), players can minimize unnecessary strain. While flexibility varies by person, nearly anyone can make progress over time and improving mobility is relatively simple – even everyday activities can increase your range of motion.
Flexibility is important both over time, and prior to play. Even healthy players with no lower back pain should avoid teeing off without any kind of warm up. Always allow time to warm up slowly on the driving range and incorporate stretching into your warm up routine. Stretching should be primarily static (little to no movement with each stretch, and no bouncing). Over time, you can gradually push yourself to become more limber in key areas such as the hips, quads and hamstrings.
Mobility exercises can be as simple as trunk rotations while seated (be sure that your hips remain stationary), leg lunges, and even stairs can help. Mobility can also be naturally increased with practice over the range. The key to maintaining mobility is to sustain activities over time.
While they won’t replace proper form and lessons with a knowledgeable pro, improving both mobility and flexibility will also contribute to a smooth golf swing, and more natural power behind the ball – something every golfer wants more of.