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Lower Back Injuries: Limber Up Before Letting Loose the Lumber

Posted Sep 29 2011 12:47pm

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Watching a modern professional golfer swing a driver in slow motion is a thing of beauty. The arms straight and unbending pull the club back in a long arc. Weight shifts from the front leg to back. Core and back muscles twist and coil, storing up power for the downswing.

Wrists cock the club at the top of the arc, then the core muscles unleash stored energy as the club retraces its curved path and meets the ball in a display of power, fluidity and accuracy.

I had this image in mind last Saturday when I teed up for an early morning round. Unfortunately, my swing found neither beauty nor power. Instead it found intense pain.

If you're not a confident golfer to begin with, collapsing in front of a bunch of strangers on the first tee will not help your mental game. Of course, my more immediate issue was standing up.

I had wrenched my lower back, a common injury for golfers. According to one Australian study ], lower back injuries account for a quarter of all golf injuries suffered by amateurs.

In golf, the risk of suffering a low back injury appears to correspond to how much you play (going up with each swing) and whether you warm up before you play, according to another golf-related study .

Normally I stretch, then practice my swing for 30 minutes or so before going to the tee box. I even work my way into long drives with short chips, punch shots and slow swings. This gives my body time to acclimate to the activity before I unload on an unsuspecting golf ball.

But we arrived late for our round Saturday, and I didn't warm up. Instead, I did what golfers do all the time. I swung a few practice swings and then swung for the fences.

Whether you're a golfer, involved in another sport like softball or just tinkering around the house, limbering up before an activity is important to prevent low back injuries. Stretching can help , but experts generally recommend starting an activity slow for five to 10 minutes, then building up to full speed.

It's one golf tip I intend to follow the next time I hit the links.

Here are six suggested warm up exercises for golfers from Men's Health .
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