• Mike Hammond, CSCS, TPI

Train Your Core to Eliminate Back Pain

Back pain is the most common injury among golfers and it can hit everyone from the amateur level to the pros. Accompanying back pain is typically a trip to the doctor or chiropractor and a potentially long break from playing golf until you feel better. That break from golf stinks. Especially as it starts to get nicer out in our part of the country and you start day dreaming of your next round while you’re at work. That injury time off is 100% avoidable if you train your core the correct way.

Now if you’re thinking you do enough crunches and abs, but still having problems with back pain when you golf, it’s time to change your thinking of core training. Recent studies have shown that excessive flexing of the lumbar spine is the fastest way to herniate a disc in your back. Now you’re asking yourself “what is flexing of the lumbar spine?” The answer: crunching, sit-ups, and a lot of the “abdominal” exercises you may be doing.

The first step to avoiding you back pain is to immediately cease doing any crunches or sit-ups. Next, you need to learn how your abs are meant to work. Yes, your abs work to flex your trunk, but their main job is to prevent your back from staying in extension. Your abs work in anti-extension to protect your back. If your back is in extension for most of the day or during every golf swing you make, it will start to hurt from overuse. Basically, your body defaults to your back to do the work for any movement you make. The pain you feel is your body’s signal to the brain that something is going wrong and that you need to stop doing the pain causing activity before something gets seriously damaged.

Look at crunches from a functional stand point. When in your daily life are you ever in that crunched position other than any crunches you may be doing currently. The answer is: almost never. Or I at least hope it’s almost never. So why train your body to be in a position you will never be in and one that will almost certainly damage your spine?

From an aesthetic stand point, crunches are even more useless. No matter how many crunches you do, it won’t help you get those six-pack abs. Everyone has the abdominal muscles that form the six-pack, most people however have some amount of fat around their stomach that covers up those abs from being visible. Go ahead and feel for your abs, they’re there and you should be able to feel them. Dieting and lowering your overall body fat-percentage is the quickest way to “get abs,” not overdoing crunches and damaging your spine.

If you want to train your core the correct way, avoid lower back pain, start on the path to lowering your body fat-percentage through strength training, avoid the doctor's office, and injury time away from golf, contact Gateway Golf Performance today. The first step towards your goals is just getting started.

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