I live on the Monterey peninsula, home to Pebble Beach, and dozens of world renown golf courses. Since this is the case, I work with many golfers who are struggling with back pain for one reason or another. It’s really frustrating when you can’t do the thing you love due to low back pain.

You can golf with low back pain as long as it doesn’t make it significantly worse. Golfing could improve your symptoms, too if you find that warming up makes it feel better. The most important factor on whether you should or shouldn’t golf is what it does to your symptoms.

In this article we’ll talk about how to modify your swing and whether or not golfing is hard on your lower back.

golf with lower back pain
Follow Through of Golf Swing

If you incorporate some running as aerobic conditioning for your golf game, you’ll want to check out this article about low back tightness and running and what to do about it.


Is Golf Hard on the Lower Back?

If you’ve experienced a sore back from golfing before you might assume that golfing is hard on the low back. 

While it does require sufficient spinal, hip, knee, and ankle movement, the golf swing is not horribly hard on the low back. 

Just like with any sport or activity, if you condition yourself appropriately you will experience far fewer injuries and pain. 

I wouldn’t recommend not playing for years, and then going out and playing 18 holes, 4x/week. This is probably and issue with too much volume in a condensed period of time. 

If you avoid that error, and, you resist the urge to swing as hard as you can (let’s face it, if you haven’t played for a while and swing hard you’re going to shank it), you will likely be just fine. 

Read This: Wondering what the top exercises for lower back pain in golfers, are?

But What About Tiger Woods? Didn’t He Wreck His Back?

Young Tiger Woods – 2002

What happened to Tiger was a shame and it was likely a combination of many factors including genetics and activity levels. 

You also have to realize that Tiger Woods has been playing golf since he was 3 or 4 years old and when he was at the top of his game was likely practicing hours upon hours every single day. 

He was literally the best in the world and when you want to be the best in the world, you put your body through stresses that are not tolerable for the rest of the population. 

Even look at Roger Federer (tennis), he’s retiring at 40, had an injury, and couldn’t come back from it. 

Eventually, we won’t be able to keep up, or just won’t be able to play at the level that we used to. That’s life. 

One more thing, Tiger Woods is still golfing even after a couple back surgeries, and he came back to win a masters after those back surgeries. Pretty dang incredible. 

How Should I Swing A Golf Club With Lower Back Pain?

I’m not a golf pro however as a physical therapist who works with golfers, here’s what I would recommend. 

Instead of changing your technique (as we all know this is a recipe for frustration), slow down your swing. 

Instead of trying to launch it as far as you can, decrease the intensity of your swing for a time being while you’re recovering. 

If you are prone to try and overly twist with your drive and this is what causes symptoms, I’d recommend using your 3 wood or other clubs to drive with to resist your urge to rotate too far. (this is of course only temporary until things are feeling better).

Also, if you’re able to walk the course, you should walk the course. 

Walking can be one of the absolute best things to do for lower back pain (if it doesn’t make it worse). 

Can You Play Golf With A Herniated Disc?

Yes, as long as golfing is not making the symptoms worse, it’s perfectly acceptable to play golf with a disc herniation.

Now, you might be thinking, “ok… but won’t that cause the herniation to become larger?!”

No. There is no evidence that by golfing or bending forward, or anything like that will make the disc herniation larger. 

This is a commonly held belief that does not hold true. 

Can You Play Golf With A Back Spasm?

Yes, you can play golf if you are having back spasms, however, it will probably be pretty difficult. 

My advice to each of my clients like this, is to see how you feel and if you feel good enough to go out and play, go for it. 

Your body is going to let you know. 

Now, if it’s been several weeks and you keep irritating it from golfing, I would recommend you rest from golfing for a bit or make some modifications to your game (slow your swing). 

What you don’t want to do is to keep on aggravating it over and over again. 

Key Takeaways

  • golf is not bad for your lower back
  • it is okay to golf if you are having back pain but you may need to modify how hard you are swinging
  • In some instances, you may want to rest if you are having recurrent symptoms that aren’t going away after several weeks
  • Most back pain gets better in 2-6 weeks regardless of treatment method.
  • Golfing with back spasms or a herniated disc is fine as long as you don’t make symptoms worse