What can I do to ease my lower back pain when playing golf?

Mar 29, 2019

Back pain and golf

Research studies have found that lower back pain (LBP) from golf account for between 18% and 54% of all documented ailments, so it is regarded as the most common golf injury. (Lindsay, Vandervoort, 2014)

Is it due to bending lots and carrying my heavy bag?

We are seeing more and more golfers at our Havant and Rowlands Castle Physio, Sports therapy and Sports massage clinics. The common complaint is half way round their 18 holes they start to get lower back pain. They can carry on but it gets worse and is really sore after they have finished.

Most of the people we have seen get the problem due to repetitive bending, twisting and lifting their bags.


A normal presentation is a general ache/pain when bending to pick the ball up out of the hole. Some people we see do complain of leg pain too, but not all of them. This pain can be worse when sitting and driving too.

On assessment we tend to find some stiffness in their lower back (lumbar spine) facet joints, weakness in their core and gluteal muscles. Core muscles are not your six pack muscles (rectus abdominus) they are deeper muscles (transverses abdominus) which support the pelvis and spine.  Gluteals are you buttock muscles which are also really important to keep strong when you have lower back pain.


We first listen to our golfers to find out what their goals are and then we work together to formulate a treatment plan and rehabilitation exercises.

The first thing we talk about is how they get around the course do they carry their bag, have a trolley or use a buggy. In order to take the load off the back it is advisable not to carry your bag.

We look at their swing to work out where the areas of stiffness are.

Then we treat using hands on manual therapy including joint mobilisations, manipulations, massage, soft tissue release, neural tensions release if needed too.


If you are getting pain on the course on bending then this is a good exercise to do.

Please be aware of your body and take advice from your GP before exercising or send us an email ( for advice and guidance.

Back Arching (Lumbar Spine Extension)

  • Move your hips forward
  • Lean back as far as you can slowly for a count of 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds and slowly up for a count of 3 seconds
  • Repeat 2-3 times throughout your time on the golf course

Rehabilitation and exercises are a really important part of treatment. We help to release tight structures (muscles, joints) then it is important for you to do some exercises to strengthen your core and glutes muscles – please see our exercises demonstrated on our YouTube channel.

It is important to make sure you have good core stability and gluteal muscles to support your back and pelvis which will help improve your golf swing, maintain pelvis alignment, reduce lower back pain and prevent the risk of injury. The exercises below will teach you how to activate your core stability muscles and strengthen your gluteal muscles.


The bridge is good for strengthening the gluteal muscles (buttocks).

  • Lie on your back
  • Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor
  • Push down through your heels and squeeze your buttocks,  count for 3 seconds up, hold for 1 second at the top and then 3 seconds back down
  • You should feel the bottom muscles working


This exercise helps strengthen core stability muscles and improves balance.

  • Kneel on the floor and place your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips
  • Extend right leg back and the left arm forward
  • Maintain a straight body line through extended leg, body and extended arm. Keep your pelvis level
  • Repeat with opposite limbs
  • Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times on each side, 2 times a day

Half Plank

  • Hold a straight back position, with your knees down, so you are supported on your elbows and knees
  • Tighten the lower abdominals and maintain a straight body line through knees, hips and head
  • Hold for 30 seconds, extending the time as you get stronger up to 2 minutes, repeat twice, once a day
  • You should feel your tummy muscles working, if you are feeling your back pain then please do not do this until you are stronger



This is an advance core stability exercise, so only try this if you are used to exercising or once your core stability has improved after doing the two exercises above.

  • Start on elbows and knees
  • Straighten your legs and raise your body so that you’re supported by the balls of your feet, with feet hip-distance apart
  • Face the floor, being careful not to arch your back or stick your bottom in the air
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds to begin with, extending the time as you get stronger up to 2 minutes, repeat twice, once a day
  • You should feel this on your tummy muscles if you get lower back pain then stop and please do the easier version, half plank above

If you want some more guidance about how to do these exercises and future self help exercises then please visit and subscribe to our FREE YouTube channel.

If you are a golfer and your back discomfort is stopping you from enjoying your game of golf or limiting your golf swing, or you want to learn ways to strengthen your core or gluteal muscles to reduce your lower back pain then please get in contact with us via, 07835 712306 or book online as we can help you to ease your lower back pain today.

We can treat you within our Havant and Rowlands Castle clinics which are local to Emsworth, Waterlooville, Horndean, Cowplain, Clanfield, Hayling Island, Langston, Compton, Finchdean, Chichester, Denmead and Petersfield or we offer home visits too.

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