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Do You Have Back Pain While Putting? This Posture Tip Will Help and These Exercises Will Improve It.

Many a golfer has decided that their putting isn’t up to snuff, only to find that with their increased practice, their back isn’t up to snuff. And let’s be real, the putting posture is a challenging one to maintain for long periods of time, and long periods of practice time is, sadly, required to putt well.


So what do we do about back pain while putting?


One, we need to understand how to make our posture superb, as this will make it the easiest to increase longevity. Two, we need to make sure our core and other muscles are strong enough maintain the rigors of a long static hold. We’ll dive into both, also learning to use the glutes to our advantage, and giving a few exercises that will help us.


First: Posture. What is posture?

Oxford says, “the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.”


“Helpful.”— You find yourself thinking.


But what we’re obviously after is good posture. And maybe even more precisely, we’re after whatever posture can help us not hurt after 1, 5, 10, or 30 minutes of practice.


I want you to begin to think about your rib cage as a hula hoop and your belt line as a hula hoop. Now pretend as if you’ve stood inside those two hula hoops and one remains at the level of your lowest rib and the other is equal to the waistband of your shorts. What we’re going to be pursuing is that those two hula hoops will match each other for most of the things we do in life.


When I say match each other, I mean that they remain level to each other, or rather, stacked over and under each other. When your hips point down, or your chest points up, that changes the level of the hula hoops, either bringing the front of them closer together or further apart. You can see a demonstration of what I mean below:



A picture about good posture demonstration
Stacked Posture

Picture of sway back or bad posture
Not Matching Posture


When this happens, the spine changes from its natural curve (here’s a picture of a normal, neutral spine), and the muscles that support the spine stretch, potentially creating discomfort the longer those muscles are in an elongated or shortened position. Muscles support bones and joints, and they exist at a length and tension that is most comfortable and safe, for most of the time, and when they are lengthened or shortened, they can begin to get uncomfortable or even downright painful.


(Side note: the issue with holding posture for a long time is not usually the spine, it is typically muscle fatigue. I want to allow that there can be nerve things due to disk herniations, or other structural components, however proper muscular positioning and strength will still be helpful.)


Now when we arch or round outside of neutral posture (the normal spine), the muscles that are attached to the spine will then elongate or shorten, which is a normal function and happens every time you stand up, turn around, pick something up off the ground, or generally move through life.


No problem.


The issue with putting is if we don’t have good posture, we’ve just put those muscles under significantly more stress/tension and then asked them to hold tight for 20-30 minutes. That’s gonna be the issue.


Therefore, let’s learn how to find good posture:


  1. Stand and pretend you’ve pulled the top of your head towards the ceiling.

  2. Match the two hula hoops on top of each other.

  3. Slightly contact your abs to “pull” your hips underneath you.

  4. Pull your shoulders back slightly and puff your chest a very small amount.

  5. Done


Secondly, let’s learn to strengthen our lower back muscles and how to hinge properly, so that we can get the glutes involved as well, which will be a major help. (Glutes are the protector of the back as we like to say here at Whitehead Fitness—a lot.)


In reality, we are now to the simpler stuff, which is just strengthening. That just takes progressively loading the muscles, forcing them to do work, and then increasing the amount or resistance week by week or as you feel appropriate.


We’ll be doing these exercises primarily:


-Front Plank

-Prone Swimmers

-Heels elevated Glute Bridge (progressing to a glute bridge march)

-(In a gym setting)— Back Extensions.


Performing these exercises with regularity and strengthening them will absolutely help build core strength and glute/hamstring strength, which will allow you to practice your putting sans worrying about your ability to stay on the green until dark.




One of the most common of core exercises, it is also one that is learned quite easily and is quite effective.


To start, begin on hands and knees, with hands under your shoulders, and knees under your hips. Drop your elbows straight down to the ground, right on the shoulders, then kick your feet back fully extended. Pull your belly button slightly towards your spine, then hold there. Breathe in through the nose and out the mouth, trying to fully fill the lungs and exhale them completely empty.


As you fatigue, your belly will want to drop towards the ground or your butt pike in the air, both of these are your core muscles deciding they want a break. This is the perfect time to stop the exercise. Record how long that was, and then progressively try to beat it over the next few weeks, stopping whenever you reach the point of failure on your form.





From the plank position, just drop to your stomach. We will try and lift our shoulders up and our feet up off the ground. We then will take long arms from overhead, and sweep them around the body down to the waist. Then return the arms up overhead, without letting the body drop.


I usually have people start with 8-10 of these, without weights, and as they strengthen, we add small weights to the hands or add reps.






This is one of my favorites for working the hamstrings and glutes, especially at home.


Start with your heels on a box, bench, couch or similar, and your knees at a 90* bend. Pull your belly button down towards the ground (you should feel your abs tighten slightly), then exhale and drive your heels down into the box to lift your hips up off the ground. Raise until you are in a straight line from the shoulders to the knees. Hold for a could seconds at the top.


To progress this you can do all of th aforementioned things, but while holding the hips at the top position, you can take one leg and drive it towards your chest, just like a march. Do this slowly, and then alternate legs.






This is more for a gym setting, where they usually have all forms of equipment available. I love this exercise for lower backs and if you use it, you will understand why I think it applies to putting in particular.


Start with static holds at the top, working to keep your body in a straight line and the legs long and tight (I like the cue over driving the heels down into the foot plate at the bottom). From there, you can progress to hinges and holds and going up and down, and maybe even holding a weight plate across your chest while doing so.





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All of these exercises will help build strength, and help increase the longevity of your putting practices, or even just make golf easier from a physical standpoint. One piece of advice is to start at what seems “easy” on the difficultly scale, and then build from there on intensity.


Learn your posture, build your strength, and you will be able to practice longer, and improve more!


-Michael



P.S.


Here is a link to a webpage with a couple of e-books I think might be helpful.


-The “Commonly Well” E-book will teach you more on how to find good posture, as well as how to perform some very simple exercises with perfect execution.


-The Putting E-book will show you my very favorite putting drills.


I would love for you to download both!





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