Tight Lower Back? Try releasing your butt muscles!
Back pain is by far the most common physical complaint amongst regular golfers. It's estimated that up to 35 percent of amateur golfers endure lower back injuries with many more feeling regular discomfort.
Back pain can affect our ball striking and short game, diminish our enjoyment of the game, or even stop us playing altogether. It can make us feel anxious about playing (and making the pain worse) and just generally disappointed with current performance falling way short of our expectations.
What you may not know, is that the gluteal (butt) muscles have a huge role to play in the health and function of golfer’s backs. We can reap a 3-fold benefit by ensuring that the glute muscles aren’t too tight:
Benefit 1 – Increased range of motion in the hips
We rely on rotation at the hip joints during the golf swing and tight glute muscles can severely inhibit this. When our hips aren’t rotating well, it places undue strain on our low backs – not ideal! Releasing the glute muscles can facilitate more range of motion in the hips, helping to us to turn further, whilst also avoiding any undue stress on our lower backs.
Benefit 2 – Releasing fascia / connective tissue
We have a network of connective tissue running throughout the body called Fascia, it’s like the glue that helps hold everything together. The glute muscles and low back share a lot of this connective tissue, so when it gets tight or knotted, we often feel pain in the low back.
Benefit 3 – Alleviating neural tightness
Some of the nerves that exit from the lower spine run directly through our glute muscles, and they can often get tight and result in stiff low backs. Releasing the muscles surrounding those nerves can have a really positive effect on neural tightness in the low back region.
Step 1 - Self Massage
Using a self-massage tool, such as the featured spiky ball, on our glutes is a great way to loosen up the muscles and fascia.
We should apply enough pressure to elicit a mild soreness, then shift our weight left and right to cover all the muscle and facia from the sacrum (base of the spine) to the hip.
Then move backward and forward to target everything from the top of the hamstring to the iliac crest (belt or short / trouser waistline).
Step 2 - Stretch
The simple stretches featured will help to lengthen the glute muscles and connective tissue.
If you are struggling to get into the prone (face down) position, you can try the supine version (lying down) – they both stretch the glutes and promote better hip rotation.
Find a comfortable stretch and hold for 30-60 seconds on each side.