Fix Your Golfing Back Pain - Step 3: Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns

Fix Your Golfing Back Pain - Step 3: Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns

About the Author:

Nick is a strength and conditioning coach contracted by PGA Tour Players and national teams to deliver his unique brand of golf fitness services. Nick offers the opportunity to access his knowledge and services to the rest of the golfing world through the following avenues:

Golf Fit Pro App
Online Training

This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others. 

You can find more information on Marnus and his work at


This article is No. 3 in a 4 part series:

Step 1 - The Importance of Assessment

Step 2 - Early Stage Rehab

Step 3 - Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns

Step 4 - Building global strength for prevention of future injury



When it comes to recovering from back injury and working towards prevention of future issues, we believe that there are some key areas of the body that need to be strengthened.

If we do a good job of building strength in these muscle groups, then we will help protect our backs and also lay a solid foundation upon which we can develop overall strength throughout the whole body (more on that in our next article - Step 4).


Area 1 - Glute / Hip Muscles

This is a complex area that contains a combination of large muscles that generate power and small muscles that control and stabilise.



We often see golfers with back pain presenting with weakness in these muscles, which is a problem as they play a major role in stabilising the pelvis and providing support for the lower back.

The glute / hip muscles also control much of the movement in the hips and lower body in the golf swing, so developing strength in this area can help protect our low backs in day to day life and also generate more power and control in the golf swing. 

Glute / Hip Circuit

3 rounds - no rest between exercises - repeat 3 times

1 - Lying Hip Clams - 15 reps

2 - Pulsing Glute Bridge - 30 secs

3 - Knee Band Crab Walk - 5 mtrs each side

4 - BW Reverse Lunge - 10 reps each side



Area 2 - Core Muscles

For the purpose of this article, when we refer to core muscles, we mean those located between the pelvis and rib cage, both front and back. For instance rectus abdominis, obliques, transversus abdominis, erector spinae, multifidus etc...



Now well recognised as playing a vital role in stabilising the spine, it's as important as ever to keep these muscles strong to protect the back and transfer power from the lower to the upper body during our golf swing.

In a golf context, there is a common myth that the core muscles are our main source of power in the swing. In reality, the main role of the core is to provide stiffness and stable support for force / power transfer from our legs to our upper body.

If we can create stiffness and stability in our core, we can help protect our spine and surrounding structures from unnecessary strain whilst also improving swing efficiency—pretty sweet combo!

Due to a combination of perpetual sitting, poor posture and other detrimental lifestyle factors, our cores tend to lose this ability to provide stiffness and stability. We can combat and correct this with a solid core conditioning program. Below are examples of some of our favourite exercises.

Core Circuit

3 rounds - no rest between exercises - repeat 3 times

1 - Dead Bug with Fitball - 10 reps each side

2 - Bird Dog - 6 reps each side

3 - Side Plank Hold - 30 secs each side

4 - High Plank Shoulder Taps - 10 reps each side



Area 3 - Upper Back Muscles

This area is often not included in the golfing low back pain discussion, but we believe the muscles in upper back have a very important role to play in both the golf swing and efficient functional movement.



The muscles of the upper back and shoulder that control shoulder blade have a huge influence on the movement and function of the shoulder, which affects the elbow, the wrist and ultimately the club. We can have fantastic range of motion in the shoulder, but if we are lacking control and strength in this area then it is really difficult to get the club set in the right position and we have to make a compensation somewhere else to make decent contact - often at the cost of safe and efficient movement in the low back.

Upper Back Circuit

3 rounds - no rest between exercises - repeat 3 times

1 - Arm Press - 15 reps

2 - Rotator Cuff Turn Out - 15 reps

3 - Tubing Reverse Fly - 15 reps

4 - Face Pull - 15 reps




Golf Movement Patterns

Let’s not forget the golf swing. One of the most common reasons we see golfers struggle with low back pain is that they are unable to “get to their lead side” and “get stuck” on the downswing. This causes the aforementioned excessive side bend and rotation from the low back, which we need to avoid! 



“Getting stuck” on the trail side


Now we aren’t golf coaches and therefore don’t deliver swing advice. However, there are some basic movement patterns that most golfers could benefit from practicing to help learn a more efficient golf swing. The aim is to develop a strong connection between arms and body, using the hips and thorax to rotate, thereby helping to avoid “getting stuck".

It's certainly no coincidence that the essential areas for strength (Glutes / Hips, Core, Upper Back) play a large role in being able to learn and then master these movement patterns.

- Efficient Rotation at Hips and Thoracic Spine

- Staying balanced in rotation

- Arms Moving In Front of the Body

The circuit outlined below will give you an idea of what these movement patterns look like, and how they should be performed.


Movement Pattern Circuit

3 rounds - no rest between exercises - repeat 3 times

1 - Split Stance Turn - 10 reps each side

2 - Back Swing to Follow Through - 10 reps

3 - Split Squat Rotate - 10 reps each side

4 - 1 Leg Rotation - 10 reps each side



In the next article in this series; Step 4 - Building global strength for prevention of future injury, we will show you how to transfer the mobility and essential strength improvements to whole body exercises.


If you would like to see how Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais – 

If you would like to access training programs designed for elite and recreational players, then check out the following resources and services from Nick at Golf Fit Pro:

Golf Fit Pro App
Online Training

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