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UnfairWay

Bad back from driving range

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If I spend any serious amount of time at the range, I get a really painful lower back - this is especially bad if I'm using the driver.

I have never particularly suffered from back problems in other areas of my life. What might be causing this? I have two theories myself:

1) Poor technique. Possibly I have a tendency to "hunch" rather than bending from the hips. It can feel better if I remember this and stick my backside out more in my address.

2) Wrong size clubs. I am tall at 6'3" and have a beginners set of clubs I bought off the rack, standard size. Is it possible that they are too short for me and putting pressure on my back?

Any suggestions or advice?

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2 minutes ago, UnfairWay said:

If I spend any serious amount of time at the range, I get a really painful lower back - this is especially bad if I'm using the driver.

I have never particularly suffered from back problems in other areas of my life. What might be causing this? I have two theories myself:

1) Poor technique. Possibly I have a tendency to "hunch" rather than bending from the hips. It can feel better if I remember this and stick my backside out more in my address.

2) Wrong size clubs. I am tall at 6'3" and have a beginners set of clubs I bought off the rack, standard size. Is it possible that they are too short for me and putting pressure on my back?

Any suggestions or advice?

My first question, what to you mean by a "serious amount of time"?  I've played golf most of my life, and I've learned that for me, an hour is the most I should ever spend at the range, and 40 minutes is closer to optimal.  if you're spending two or three hours swinging a club, that's too much, in my opinion.  Its hard on the body, sure, but its also hard on your brain.  Swinging a club without proper mental preparation for each swing is exercise, but its not productive practice.  The same goes for "machine-gunning" shots quickly, take the time to make each swing as good as it can be.  

Another point, I know you're pretty new to the game.  In spite of your relatively young age, your body isn't used to the types of motions and strains that a golf swing puts on it.  Its pretty normal to expect some soreness, and the lower back is a pretty common place for that soreness to occur.  

You suggest it might be a swing technique issue.  I know you're getting instruction, so that might be a question to put to your instructor, as is your concern about properly fitting clubs.  You could also post a video of your swing in the My Swing area, and get some good advice from people there.  However, it seems completely possible to me that your back is getting sore because you're doing things right.  On the forward swing, your hips rotate open (toward the target) faster than your shoulders, so there's a natural rotational strain in your lower back from doing that motion correctly.  If you continue to practice the right way, in reasonable amounts, your back will get stronger, and the pain will decrease and eventually go away.

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I was at the range yesterday for about 55 minutes.
I hit about 85 balls.
I hit driver then iron then wedge.

I than walk out of the booth and try to stretch my back.
If you think about it, normally during a 4.5 hour round you would not even hit 85 balls as many are putts.

But I can understand how one could hurt the back. you get tired, your form gets sloppy, you hit a ball poorly and next thing you know you are pushing your self and compounding bad technique and tired muscles.

If you are going to spend alot of time at the range, work in some breaks!

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30 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

My first question, what to you mean by a "serious amount of time"?  I've played golf most of my life, and I've learned that for me, an hour is the most I should ever spend at the range, and 40 minutes is closer to optimal.  if you're spending two or three hours swinging a club, that's too much, in my opinion.  Its hard on the body, sure, but its also hard on your brain.  Swinging a club without proper mental preparation for each swing is exercise, but its not productive practice.  The same goes for "machine-gunning" shots quickly, take the time to make each swing as good as it can be.  

Another point, I know you're pretty new to the game.  In spite of your relatively young age, your body isn't used to the types of motions and strains that a golf swing puts on it.  Its pretty normal to expect some soreness, and the lower back is a pretty common place for that soreness to occur.  

You suggest it might be a swing technique issue.  I know you're getting instruction, so that might be a question to put to your instructor, as is your concern about properly fitting clubs.  You could also post a video of your swing in the My Swing area, and get some good advice from people there.  However, it seems completely possible to me that your back is getting sore because you're doing things right.  On the forward swing, your hips rotate open (toward the target) faster than your shoulders, so there's a natural rotational strain in your lower back from doing that motion correctly.  If you continue to practice the right way, in reasonable amounts, your back will get stronger, and the pain will decrease and eventually go away.

Appreciate your response - especially that you remember a bit about me despite only having a few posts.

"Serious amount of time" certainly doesn't mean 2-3 hours - the absolute max would be 100 balls, probably around an hour, maybe slightly more but not by much. Totally agree that productivity of practice drops as you go past a certain time, I am careful to avoid going past that point - often leaving the last few balls if I don't feel it's worth it at this point. On the other hand, it does sometimes take a long time and a lot of terrible shots before something suddenly "clicks", so I also look to make sure I persevere even if it feels unproductive. It's a fine balance.

Your description of the swing sounds (hopefully) like what I'm doing. It also makes sense that driving would cause more pain, as the hips-faster-than-shoulders movement is more exaggerated. So maybe it is just a case of sticking it out, always stopping practice when it hurts. Also worth mentioning that the pain is always gone within an hour of stopping, not to return until I swing a club again.

Just on what you said about "machine-gunning" - I actually find that approach can be useful to me if a cerebral approach isn't causing any progress. It is possible to overthink so thinking about the shot is doing more harm than good, I find that sometimes rapidly smacking a few balls one after the other bang bang bang bang bang can help instinct to kick in and help make a breakthrough. Worst case scenario, it lets off some frustration and I can take a breath, and go back to swinging thoughtfully with a clear head.

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A couple of things to add to good points by @DaveP043 and @Elmer

Poor technique and hunching. What is your overall exercise routine, aside from golf? If you have a desk job like many people these days, you might have what some golf instructors call the chairborne synrome... have strong thighs sitting and rising, but lesser strength and flexibility in lower back from lack of resistance activity in daily life.

Equipment. It's hard to say without you getting a fitting. Some taller players with proportionally balanced arm and leg length can get by with average length clubs. Others cannot. If you could get at least a static fitting...

Age can also be a factor, as to how much practice you can endure. I'm 65, and I met an old schoolmate at a golf tournament this spring. He was an accomplished college golfer and played some mini-tour events (in the previous century.) He now has a 4 HDCP, but says he has to limit full-swing practice so he doesn't beat up his body too bad.

Good luck, and let us know how thing go with your game.

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5 minutes ago, UnfairWay said:

Your description of the swing sounds (hopefully) like what I'm doing. It also makes sense that driving would cause more pain, as the hips-faster-than-shoulders movement is more exaggerated. So maybe it is just a case of sticking it out, always stopping practice when it hurts. Also worth mentioning that the pain is always gone within an hour of stopping, not to return until I swing a club again.

Based on the bold part, it doesn't sound like you're injuring yourself, it sounds like the temporary pain is more of a fatigue kind of thing.  Something you might think about is taking some kind of pain med (I prefer ibuprofin, generic for Advil in the US) an hour or so before you practice, that might stop the pain before it gets started.

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50 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

Based on the bold part, it doesn't sound like you're injuring yourself, it sounds like the temporary pain is more of a fatigue kind of thing.  Something you might think about is taking some kind of pain med (I prefer ibuprofin, generic for Advil in the US) an hour or so before you practice, that might stop the pain before it gets started.

I used to swear by ibuprofen, unfortunately I can't take it anymore because I have minor kidney problems - turns out ibuprofen is seriously bad for your kidneys, I had no idea until I was taken into hospital. I will try paracetamol which I also find effective. Thanks for your help.

58 minutes ago, WUTiger said:

A couple of things to add to good points by @DaveP043 and @Elmer

Poor technique and hunching. What is your overall exercise routine, aside from golf? If you have a desk job like many people these days, you might have what some golf instructors call the chairborne synrome... have strong thighs sitting and rising, but lesser strength and flexibility in lower back from lack of resistance activity in daily life.

Equipment. It's hard to say without you getting a fitting. Some taller players with proportionally balanced arm and leg length can get by with average length clubs. Others cannot. If you could get at least a static fitting...

Age can also be a factor, as to how much practice you can endure. I'm 65, and I met an old schoolmate at a golf tournament this spring. He was an accomplished college golfer and played some mini-tour events (in the previous century.) He now has a 4 HDCP, but says he has to limit full-swing practice so he doesn't beat up his body too bad.

Good luck, and let us know how thing go with your game.

I really hope age isn't a major factor at 31! Unfamiliarity with the mechanics may be though, as @DaveP043 suggested.

as for my exercise - yes I am desk-based, but I am generally sporty, play rugby in the winter. Saying that, I have been on a lay-off following an injury and haven't been to the gym for a while so could be contributing.

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2 hours ago, UnfairWay said:

I really hope age isn't a major factor at 31!

I was 31 once upon a time...

I got a couple of injuries about age 40 that I should have taken care of, but didn't. Some lingering effects now. So, if you have an injury layoff, you have to work your way back in more slowly than your ego wants you to go.

But since you're a rugger, I suspect you know how to "get back in it" after injury.

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You might actually be sticking your rear out too much (and in the wrong way). The coil in your swing should come more from the mid to upper back, not the lower back. The lower back should turn more with the hips, not resisting them.

Lower back strain is often caused by too much posterior (not enough anterior) pelvic tilt. Try this move where you are getting your pelvis under you a little more at the start, so you are really loading your glutes.

(first two minutes of video is more about warming up)

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5 hours ago, acerimusdux said:

You might actually be sticking your rear out too much (and in the wrong way). The coil in your swing should come more from the mid to upper back, not the lower back. The lower back should turn more with the hips, not resisting them.

Lower back strain is often caused by too much posterior (not enough anterior) pelvic tilt. Try this move where you are getting your pelvis under you a little more at the start, so you are really loading your glutes.

(first two minutes of video is more about warming up)

Thanks, at work so can't watch it right now but will give it a try.

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I'm not a doctor, but it sounds like your core muscle group is a little weak.  Like any physical activity, strength and dexterity will always help.

I used to always suffer from lower back pain/spasms, but once I started to exercise my core it greatly diminished my problems.  It doesn't take much and don't over exert yourself believing more is better.  You may actually exacerbate the problem through strenuous exercise.  Gotta learn how to walk before you can run.

Some basic core exercises everyday should do until you become stronger.  Know you limits.  You won't see results overnight.  It's a slow process.

Instructions on simple and easy core exercise routines are abundant on the Internet, but if you still feel pain and no improvement, then please consult with your physician!

Good luck.

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On 8/28/2016 at 3:32 PM, Al Bundy said:

I'm not a doctor, but it sounds like your core muscle group is a little weak.  Like any physical activity, strength and dexterity will always help.

I used to always suffer from lower back pain/spasms, but once I started to exercise my core it greatly diminished my problems.  It doesn't take much and don't over exert yourself believing more is better.  You may actually exacerbate the problem through strenuous exercise.  Gotta learn how to walk before you can run.

Some basic core exercises everyday should do until you become stronger.  Know you limits.  You won't see results overnight.  It's a slow process.

Instructions on simple and easy core exercise routines are abundant on the Internet, but if you still feel pain and no improvement, then please consult with your physician!

Good luck.

I'd agree with this - I've put my back in spasm twice over the last 5 years - most recently a few weeks ago.  Both times, I started noticing that my back was sore after practicing at the range.  It was nothing major and would usually subside pretty quickly.  This would go on for a few days or so.  Then, hours later or even the next day . . all of a sudden, I go to lift something or make an awkward move and *bam* - back spasm.   Core exercises are great for this . .this time I'm going to stick with them even after I fully recover. 

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I spend about 90 minutes - 2 hours at the range but only hit 80 balls max.  I see guys show up and get a large bucket and just pound one ball after another.  People will come and go and I'll still be working on my medium bucket.  

I'd suggest you space out your shots, not only will it allow you to practice better but it may reduce some of the strain hitting balls at the range places on your back.  

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On 8/28/2016 at 3:32 PM, Al Bundy said:

I'm not a doctor, but it sounds like your core muscle group is a little weak.  Like any physical activity, strength and dexterity will always help.

I used to always suffer from lower back pain/spasms, but once I started to exercise my core it greatly diminished my problems.  It doesn't take much and don't over exert yourself believing more is better.  You may actually exacerbate the problem through strenuous exercise.  Gotta learn how to walk before you can run.

Some basic core exercises everyday should do until you become stronger.  Know you limits.  You won't see results overnight.  It's a slow process.

Instructions on simple and easy core exercise routines are abundant on the Internet, but if you still feel pain and no improvement, then please consult with your physician!

Good luck.

I 100% agree with this. When I got back into playing golf I could not hit a full bucket of balls without really bad lower back pain halfway through. I started doing core strengthening exercises and stretches and now I can hit a full bucket no problem. I have been diagnosed with facet arthritis in my back (several years ago) and that is what was causing my pain. By strengthening the muscles it takes the strain off the facet joints and thus no pain.

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The golf swing puts stress on the intervertabral discs. These are viscoelastic and time rate dependent. That means they deform under stress (viscoelastic) and take time to get back into proper shape (time rate dependent). If you make too many swings in a unit time, they do not have the chance to reform.

Increase the time interval between each ball. After hitting ten or so, or if you feel any soreness in your back, stop and take a rest break.

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22 minutes ago, The Recreational Golfer said:

The golf swing puts stress on the intervertabral discs. These are viscoelastic and time rate dependent. That means they deform under stress (viscoelastic) and take time to get back into proper shape (time rate dependent). If you make too many swings in a unit time, they do not have the chance to reform.

Increase the time interval between each ball. After hitting ten or so, or if you feel any soreness in your back, stop and take a rest break.

So, do they recover after about a minute or two of rest? Like hit 10 rest 2-3 minutes then hit another set?

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22 hours ago, Lihu said:

So, do they recover after about a minute or two of rest? Like hit 10 rest 2-3 minutes then hit another set?

That's hard to say because it also depends on your age. Young discs reform faster than old ones like mine. But what you suggest is a good start, not only for your back, but for giving yourself time to think about what you're doing.

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Note: This thread is 1060 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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