Professional Sports Care statistics show that 80-85% of right handed golfers have lower back pain that localized to the right lumbar area. Likewise this tendency occurs with left handed golfers having a higher probably of left lower back pain. What about the 15-20% of right handed golfers who develop left lower back pain?
It is important to determine where in their swing the right handed golfer notices left lower back pain. Although there are cases of PGA Tour golfers where pain occurs on the follow through it is more common to occur in their backswing. Assessments on right handed PGA golfers show that a majority of the time a soft tissue component is the cause of their left lower back pain. Structural problems such as facet and costovertebral joint dysfunction can occur but it is not as common.
Muscle groups to be evaluated include the Latissimus Dorsi, Erector Spinae, Serratus Posterior Inferior and the Quadratus Lumborum (QL). The most common muscle involved with this scenario has been found to be the left QL. Being a pelvic stabilizer the left QL is often tight and resists elongation when the torso rotates right. The golfer will often feel a “pulling pain” or sharp pain along the left iliac crest or lower rib area on the left during or at the apex of their backswing.
Active and passive release techniques are effective in relieving symptoms and restoring muscle capability. Adding concentric and eccentric strengthening exercises for lumbar lateral flexors and rotators will improve the strength and pliability required for comfortable and controlled right torso rotation in the right handed golfer (left torso rotation for a left handed golfer).
If not corrected the golfer will sacrifice range of motion in their backswing. They would likely have to accomodate this loss of motion by changing their posture, falling into a Reverse C, or by coming over the top.
As you can see a simple muscle dysfunction can have enormous consequences. If you are a right handed golfer suffering from left lower back pain I advise you see a golf sports medicine specialist as soon as possible. A little treatment and a couple of exercises will make your golf instructor very happy. Most importantly your performance will improve!