By: Dr JP Guidry DPT CSCS TPI
Low back pain is very common and inevitably all of us will experience at least one bout of it in our life especially those of us that play golf. How we manage low back pain, especially acute low back pain can determine how big of an effect it may have on our lives and our golf game.
Even persistent or long-term low back pain can be reduced and better managed to allow the people who suffer from it to lead seemingly normal lives and return to the activities, they enjoy including playing golf.
Pain itself is a very individualized experience. According to the great G. Lorimer Moseley there are four key points we need to keep in mind when it comes to pain.
1. Pain does not provide an accurate measure of the state of the tissues. This means that the level of pain is not equal to the level of tissue damage.
2. Pain is an output of the brain that is modulated by many factors from across biomechanical, somatic, psychological and social domains. Things like tissue damage, stress, fear, anxiety, memory, relationships, sleep, overall health can all have an effect on the pain we feel.
3. The relationship between pain and the state of the tissues becomes less predictable as pain persists. This means that the more persistent the pain the less likely it is due solely to tissue damage.
4. That pain can be conceptualized as a conscious correlate of the implicit perception that tissue is in danger. Pain is an alarm; it tells us that something might or has already happened that is harmful to our body. It is a call to action.
So, what do you need to do if you experience an acute episode or flare-up of low back pain?
1. Don’t Freak Out
Low back pain is rarely associated with serious pathology or structural damage. Low back pain and pain, in general, are influence by a number of factors including activity levels, sleep patterns, fear, mood, worry and stress, habitual postures and overall strength and conditioning levels. Don’t rush off to get a scan right away as a lot of times findings on scans can be normal in people with and without pain and not necessarily connected to your pain.
2. Move Early and Move Often
Gentle movement early on in the process that does not increase symptoms is key. While there is no such thing as an ideal posture varying postures throughout the day and avoiding aggravating postures early on can help. Rest, avoidance of activity and taking a lot of time off are generally not helpful for low back pain in the long run. With this being said, you may want to cut back practicing and playing until the symptoms have calmed down. The goal is to return to your normal activities as soon as possible. We will provide a sample low back exercise program to get your started later in the article.
3. Maintain Good Health for Better Outcomes with Low Back Pain in the Future
Regular physical activity, maintaining a positive mindset about low back pain and pain in general, maintaining good sleep patterns and healthy stress management can lead to better outcomes for low back pain. Participating in a consistent strength and conditioning program for the entire body will not only prepare your back and body to tolerate more loads but be beneficial to your overall health and well-being. Getting evaluated by a TPI certified professional can help determine if you have any mobility restrictions, weakness or limitations that may be leading to your pain and/or negatively impacting your golf swing.
4. If All Else Fails Get Help
If your pain does not improve in a reasonable time frame, then give us a call and we can help get you back to the activities you love. If you would like a TPI golf specific screen to help determine any physical limitations that may be affecting your pain and negatively impacting your golf game we can help. If you are interested in improving your overall health or want help with learning a proper strength and conditioning program that will benefit you throughout your life, we can help with that as well.
The low back exercise program
Below is a basic low back exercise program to get you moving. This program is set in two phases:
Phase 1 The calm down phase is where the focus will be on reducing low back pain via gentle movement and if needed temporary restriction of aggravating factors.
Phase 2 The Build back up phase. This is where we will focus on loading the back in a safe manner and returning to all activity.
The time frames of these phases will differ from person to person and episode to episode. Listen to your body and let the pain guide you. The goal is to progress to phase two and back to normal activity as soon as tolerable. If you take a break then slowly return to golf as tolerated starting with chipping and putting and slowly increase towards full swing at full speed as pain allows.
What if the pain doesn’t go away?
If your pain does not improve in a reasonable time frame, then give us a call at 337 274 3639. We can provide a golf-specific evaluation to help determine your limitations and get you feeling better and back to playing golf. If you are feeling better but interested in improving your overall health or want help with learning a proper strength and conditioning program that will benefit you throughout your life, we can help with that as well.
We offer a variety of in-person and online training options to fit your needs. Head over to our website at http://www.guidrygolfandsport.com and see what we have to offer.
Hit bombs. Play well. Enjoy the Game well into your years
Dr. JP GUIDRY DPT CSCS TPI
P.S. I you are not already a member I highly recommend joining the Louisiana Golf Association today. As a member myself I can attest to plethora of benefits, access to tournaments and the great work they do in growing the game of golf here in the great state of Louisiana